This book is a little like reading a Quentin Tarantino film. The drugs, blood, and high level of violence are every bit as cutting as they are on the screen. The only difference is that readers get a sliver of a glimpse into the heads of the characters. That’s one of the major reasons that the book is always better, right?
In this case, we see why main character, Patterson, begins with a solid detachment from his own life. Losing his young son sends him into a spiral of guilt and grief that he won’t let go, kept at bay by a series of risky jobs and a solid measure of alcohol and drugs. But, it’s the time between that gets difficult. The lonely mesa San Luis valley where he stay reflects his effort to stay above and removed from real emotional attachment, but it’s also the catalyst to his meeting Junior.
Junior is a drug-running miscreant from the bottom dregs of Denver, who has a daughter that he rarely sees and a father that he hates.
When Junior and Patterson cross paths, they reach a common ground in spite of their mistrust of one another. Patterson comes to use Junior and his self-inflicted fiascos to avoid dealing with the confrontation of his own grief and failure, however damaging the results may be. And Junior views Patterson as a stem in the flow of his loneliness and self-loathing.
Paralleling the struggle of a father who has lost a child, with the struggle of a grown child full of resentment toward a father who all but abandoned him, readers see how different roads can lead to the same place in life.
While this isn’t a happy read, it is a fast paced one. The narrative rockets from one event, stopping only for a few spells of black out drunk, and drug fueled confusion.
The ending is of little surprise, but it’s fitting. If you like Tarantino, or want a gratifying fix of gratuitous violence, this a book you won’t want to put down.