Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ravens by George Dawes Green

Flap copy from hardcover:
"The Boatwrights just won 318 million dollars in the GeorgiaState lottery. It's going to be the worst day of their lives.

When Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko pull up at a convenience store off I-95 in Georgia, their only thought is to fix a leaky tire and be on their way again to Florida-away from their dull Ohio tech-support jobs. But this happens to be the store from which a 318,000,000 million dollar Jackpot ticket has just been sold -- and when a pretty clerk accidentally reveals to Shaw the identity of the winning family, he hatches a ferociously audacious scheme: He and Romeo will squeeze the family for half their prize.

That night, he visits the Boatwright home and takes the family hostage, while Romeo patrols the streets nearby, prepared to murder the Boatwrights' loved ones at any sign of resistance. At first, the family offers none. But Shaw's plot depends on maintaining constant fear-merciless, unfaltering terror-and soon, under the pressure, everyone's sanity begins to unravel.."

This book was an unexpected pleasure. After reading the blurb, I thought this would be a suspense filled thriller, likely to end in a bloody mess at the end like so many thriller/horror movies. I started reading with some trepidation, but was immediately sucked into the story. Well, maybe not into the story because there really isn't a lot of plot or story here, but into the work itself.

This book is a wonderful set of character studies loosely tied to the whole kidnapping/terror plot. There are jewels here, tightly written snippets of conversation and memory that reveal volumes about the personalities involved in just a few well-chosen words. Romeo especially offers a wealth of pain, confusion, and love wrapped up in the persona of a tough guy who is much more a lost boy. I definitely preferred Romeo to Shaw as a character, and found his to be a more believable back story and personality.

Given that I sat down meaning to read just a few pages and ended up pushing through to the end, this book obviously succeeds in engaging the reader. I would have given it five stars if I had been able to better understand the power that Shaw seemed to exert over people. The whole cult that sprang up around Shaw was a little too unrealistic for my taste, but otherwise I was quite impressed by the character sketches delivered in Ravens. Highly recommended 4.5 stars.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree that it was an engaging read. I didn't want to put it down.