Cry Father by Benjamin Whitmer – review

9781476734354_b0410Patterson Wells has been carrying his dead son in his heart for years and the load hasn’t gotten any lighter.

He travels most of the year from one disaster area to the next clearing trees and observing human misery, but now it’s time for him to return to his cabin in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.  Though his dog might like the break from the road, Patterson finds that being so close to his old domesticated life just makes him tip more back and look for more trouble.

The real trouble arrives in the form of Junior, a young drug runner living in Denver who has beef with Henry, Junior’s reformed father and Patterson’s friendly neighbor.  At first Patterson thinks they’re gonna have words, but soon finds himself hanging out and boozing with the shit-starting young gun.  As their misanthropic relationship grows and their tumultuous baggage intertwines, the bodies start piling up around them and their respective heartaches only throb harder.

Cry Father is Benjamin Whitmer’s follow-up to his blistering debut Pike.

It is fucking excellent.

Whitmer’s prose is balanced beautifully between dark poetry and Leonardian terseness, a landscape never lingered on for too long nor rendered any way but perfectly, his dialogue neither too smart or “writerly” yet often hilarious or gnarly.  These hard and often cruel characters are never apologized for nor are they ever out of reach of our empathy.

The bleak world of Cry Father is filled with the guns, booze, cigarettes, and pick-ups fans of rural noir have come to love but such elements never approach cliche in their handling.  Whitmer is trying to say something about loss and fathers and sons yet offers no answers, just human truths and timeless questions.  The novel reads faster than the most structurally precise thrillers yet no genre scaffolding is ever glimpsed.

To boil it down for you: Cry Father is the front runner for best book of 2014.

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Nerd of Noir

I love crime/noir fiction, comics and movies. I think my opinions are web-worthy. Then again, what asshole doesn't think that their opinions deserve a blog?

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