Sunday, March 12, 2017

Extraordinary Storytelling, Randall Silvis, TWO DAYS GONE

Randall Silvis's books have rolled along since 1984. Not all of them are crime fiction, but enough of them are so that I'm bewildered that I haven't ready any of his earlier titles. I'll be making up for that now -- because TWO DAYS GONE, one of three books of his coming out this year (!), is a marvelous read.

In some ways it's the perfect book for anyone who loves to speculate on the author behind the story. Police Sergeant Ryan DeMarco has his own deep sorrows, but he's always thought local resident Thomas Huston -- a college professor in their Pennsylvania town -- has the perfect life. Wife and children who thrive on Huston's love, a well-respected teaching job with mostly wonderful students, colleagues who ... again, mostly ... respect him. And the next book already underway, no issues with writer's block at all. DeMarco needs Huston's warm friendship, and he's deeply curious about how the novelist works. So the last thing he expects is Huston's family to be slaughtered. Huston himself is missing and is the presumed murderer. What happened? What could make this man snap? And if Huston, with so much going right, could descend into criminal madness, could DeMarco himself be at risk?

Of course, there are complications as DeMarco investigates. For instance, one young man who'd seen Huston as his life-changing mentor calls Tom Huston "perfection," and DeMarco realizes suddenly what the subtext is:
Softly he said, "Did he know how you felt about him?"

A tiny movement flitted at the corner of Briessen's eye, a twitch, a wince. Then he shrugged. "It was never expressed, never talked about. But I'm sure he knew."

DeMarco waited for the rest of it.

"The thing about Tom is, right from the start, he treated me like an equal. I mean I might never publish a single word. But he respected my ... intent, you know? He respected the dream. More than anything else, that's what made him so special to me."

De Marco allowed half a minute to pass in silence. "You have any idea where he might be, Nathan?"

"I wish like h*ll I did. Imagine what he must be going through right now."

"I've been doing my best to image just that. Where would he go? What would he do?"
"I think he's looking for the killer."
And just like that, DeMarco knows he'd not alone in wanting desperately to believe that Thomas Huston didn't slaughter his wife and children. But where is he? And why won't he come in to the police, if there's a chance he's innocent after all?

The more DeMarco investigates, the more he realizes that Huston's authorial research put him at risk, involving young prostitutes and their pimps. But the pieces won't fit with the crime.

Tender exploration of how stories emerge for writers takes place, and the plot gently twists, then twists again, until the final events in TWO DAYS LOST are stunning -- but totally fitting.

A highly recommended book. Author material at the end gives added insight to Silvis's own authorial dreams -- making the book even more of a gem. Published by Sourcebooks Landmark, and as I mentioned at the start, I'll be looking for other Silvis books to enjoy later.

PS:  Looking for more mystery reviews, from cozy to very dark? Browse the Kingdom Books mysteries review blog here

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