I have been enjoying Pete Hautman's books since I read his National Book Award winning book, Godless, and I was thrilled when we received this book yesterday. Short and fast, it tells the story of Mike and his sister, Marie who was dating a drug dealer named Jon, and a police detective named Rawls. The story reminded me of the old TV series, The Lone Ranger, where a mysterious masked man would ride into town, avenge the innocent victim, and ride away before anyone could thank him.
Our story opens with a young man named Shayne showing up at a police station to confess to a murder he committed.
He had seen that expression in other places too. The morgue. Funeral parlors. Murder scenes.
The face of the dead.
But this boy was not dead. Somewhere behind those eyes existed a spark -- a spark that had brought him here, to this building, to this bench, to George Rawls.
"Are you Shayne?" Rawls asked.
The boy dropped his chin. Rawls took that as a yes and sat beside him on the bench, feeling every last one of his forty-three years, fifteen of them as a cop. Despite having conducted hundreds of such interviews, he found himself at a loss. Something about his kid -- who could not have weighed much more than his Labrador retriever -- frightened him. Not fear for himself. The other kind of fear: fear that the universe no longer made sense, that everthing was about to change.
"So . . . ." Rawls cleared his throat, looking straight ahead, ". . . who did you kill?"
The chapters alternate between Shayne giving his statement to Rawls, and flashbacks of the events from Mike's point of view. Jon shoved a bag into Mike's backpack when police showed up at the school with dogs to perform locker searches. Fearing that he might be caught with drugs, Mike threw the bag into the garbage. The next day Jon demanded his bag back and since the garbage had been emptied, he told Mike to repay him $500 or suffer the consequences. Unable to pay and afraid more for what Jon would do to his sister than himself, Mike is in a real quandry. In rides Shayne on his white horse, er, BMW motorcycle, to save the day.
"Hi, ho, Silver. Away!!!"
This book didn't take much longer to read than watching an episode of the Lone Ranger. The reader is swept along by events fearing the worst would result in this situation. I highly recommend this book to anyone.
My rating for this book: ++++