Dark doings from Boston to Alaska to inside the head

January 07, 2007|By Sarah Weinman | Sarah Weinman,Special to The Sun

The Killing Moon

Chuck Hogan

Blood and Circumstance

Frank Turner Hollon

McAdam/Cage / 170 pages / $23

Hollon's seventh novel ostensibly qualifies as a legal thriller, since the bulk of its story is told in pre-trial interview sessions between doctor and subject. But instead of dry back-and-forth, the questions raised by psychologist Ellis Andrews of his patient, Joel Stabler, open a series of cracked windows into a hazy search for truth in a sea of unreliability. For Stabler has confessed to the murder of his brother, Danny, claiming his brother, after years of schizophrenic episodes and a torturous childhood of abuse and neglect, begged him to do it. That Joel is not telling the full story is apparent almost immediately - especially when Andrews consults other family members, who share decidedly contrasting sides of the story - but Hollon isn't satisfied with making Joel an occasional unreliable narrator. Instead, he aims to make the reader question every fact, every statement and every assumption presented. That such a slim volume can pack in so much depth is testament to the author's ability to spin layers of meaning in deceptively simple prose, making Blood and Circumstance a gem that should not be overlooked.

Sarah Weinman reviews crime fiction monthly for The Sun. Visit her at www.sarahweinman.com.

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