Then I read “High Crimes.”
Authors love to say “I am not my character.” It has to be true: David Lawlor was never a priest, much less a pedophile priest. His resume does not include a career as a crane operator, but he must have possessed the body of one, kinda like that Dan Jenkins guy in the novels of John L. Monk. Jenkins (never mind that he’s dead, and Lawlor is apparently very alive) can hijack a man’s body for up to three weeks at a time, until he gets kicked out (hence the title, “KICK,” of Book One of the series.)
Now, the character Paddy – this, I can believe, is 100% David Lawlor. Paddy is one of the best human beings ever. Love him to bits. My heart breaks for him as his beloved wife suffers dementia (Alzheimers) and his son struggles to overcome a drug addiction. Paddy rules! #GottaLovePaddy!
But that crane operator. I don’t know, David “Nice Guy” Lawlor. How does a good person write with *such* authenticity? Sure, millions of books out there deliver heinous villains, but most are so over-the-top, cliched, or one-dimensional, it’s pretty clear the author is making it all up and has no clue what true villainy is like.
Another thing about this wonderful novel: David “Nice Guy” Lawlor doesn’t just do the thing all authors must do, “Put your protagonist up a tree and shoot at him.” Lawlor kills his own protagonists. No, I’m not even hinting at which ones. Any of the three ladies who were victimized by the pedophile priest while they were innocent orphan girls? The nice, widowed cop? The artist? The young woman and/or her new love interest? That crane operator has them all in his sights. He gives them nicknames. “Eve” is a broken woman who cleans house in the nude. Don’t these people use window shades? Do high-rise dwellers believe nobody with binoculars ever peers in? No matter. If everyone pulled the shades or blinds, we wouldn’t have this incredible thriller to read.
I highlighted lots of passages. I meant to include some here, but people have been telling me my book reviews are incredibly long even when I don’t include excerpts from the novel. To me, there’s nothing like showing readers the author’s own words to prove how brilliant the prose really is. Don’t take my word for it. Read it for yourself.
The climax is absolutely spectacular. In a good way, it reminds me of a certain scene from “Dexter,” the TV show with more plot holes than a Swiss cheese, but I devoured every episode. The ending, too, reminds me (in a good way!) of an author I normally avoid, Nicholas Sparks. The multitude of characters reminds me of a great movie where the separate threads come together in the end, but I’ll be darned if I can think of the title now.
In other words, this novel is a masterpiece. But I’m mad at you, David Lawlor. You didn’t just tug the ol’ heartstrings. You yanked them out, violently, and stomped on them. You and E.E. Giorgi (“Athel”, Book 2 of the Mayake chronicles: I still haven’t forgiven you, Elena!).
Ironically, I’ve had both of Lawlor’s historical novels in my Kindle for years now, “Tan” and “The Golden Grave,” and both start beautifully,
The thing is, it did. Maybe not with the names and locations given here, but the trouble with great authors is that they have a handle on the truth. My husband often says, “Relax! It’s only a movie!” — but it’s never “only” a movie or book. (Unless *maybe* it’s science fiction or fantasy.) These things DO happen in real life. Disguise them in fictional form all you like, but the authenticity rings true, loud, and clear.
I hate you, I love you, David Lawlor!
I’ve only ever written one short story, Carol, the one in For Whom The Bell Trolls. My third historical fiction – A Time of Traitors – is more a detective thriller and doesn’t include any battles or bloody gore, but is based around historical events. My WIP is wrapped around the Irish Civil War and is particularly tied to an actual ambush – the most famous in Irish history – so I have to be careful with that one and get my facts right. It’s tricky getting the balance between action and emotional development. You don’t want the action to dominate things, but yet you do need to convey the times as they were. Tricky, but an interesting challenge…