Friday, June 25, 2004

Perfect Circle, by Sean Stewart

I've got a lot of catching up to do. We'll see if I can do a review a day for a bit. Yes, I do actually read more than an average of two books every six weeks.

I'd never read Sean Stewart before this Small Beer Press publication. My loss. This is a fast, frightening novel about family, ghosts and music. William "Dead" Kennedy has this problem, see; he sees ghosts. That, on top of the fact that he can't hold a job, is broke, in love with his ex-wife, and has a twelve-year-old daughter who thinks she has to take care of him. The wrong ghost leads to another, which leads to just about everything in Kennedy's life going from bad to worse. Perfect Circle moves quickly, isn't afraid to go to dark places, and has an ending that satisfies without being too neat. William himself is a bit frayed, and it's only appropriate that the resolution be that as well.

One of the things that I found most interesting about this novel was its take on family. Kennedy is what some people might call a loser, a man in his thirties who's trying to live the punk lifestyle, but his parents aren't the cliches one might expect them to be. They accept his oddness, forgive his mistakes, and are there when he needs them. In return, Kennedy is truly a part of his family, albeit at times reluctantly. He's not a caricature. None of these people are, from the ex-Marine who married Dead's ex-wife to Dead's cousins and sisters to the clients who hire him to find their ghosts. This is an impressive book--a thriller with soul. Or souls, if you prefer.


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