Tuesday, July 6, 2010
It has been over two weeks since I've read The Singer's Gun. Generally, within a few days of reading a book, I become inspired
to write a review, but not this time. The book almost defies description. But the review must be written, so at this stage, I have to just dive in and go for it. Hope it works out.
Anton Waker has gone missing, much to the irritation of the police force, who suspect him of human trafficking and selling illegal social security numbers. His parents are distraught. Is he dead? Is he gallivanting throughout Europe? A seemingly straight-forward mystery is underfoot.
We flashback, and are introduced to Anton months earlier. He works for a prestigious consulting firm, is a Harvard graduate, is engaged to a famous cellist, and has a close, slightly flirtatious relationship with his lovely secretary. Mandel peels back a layer of the onion, and reveals a few more facts...Anton's illegal family business, a fiance that keeps cancelling the wedding, a vicious and money-hungry cousin, a falsified college degree. We squirm. Another layer is peeled back, and we see a secretary blackmailed to spy on Anton, a life unraveling, and a tortured man wanting and attempting to live a clean life. We read even faster.
We travel from New York, to the frozen tundra in the far reaches of Canada, to a tiny, beautiful island off the coast of Italy. There is a gun. There is one last deal to make. The tension continues to build, and we are hooked.
For those looking for an action-packed thriller, you may be disappointed. Instead, Mandel has delivered more of a restrained, literary mystery that builds slowly and subtly, that pulls the reader quickly into a noirish tale of lost souls. The characters are flawed but endearing...Anton even loves and misses his adoring, one-eyed cat, which pretty much sealed the deal for me. Inequities are present and don't resolve themselves. People die. The ending is wide open. The story is enigmatic.
I read the book in one sitting, and folks, this rarely happens. If my description above appeals to your senses, add it to your list quickly.
4.5 out of 5 stars