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Reductio Ad Absurdum,
This review is from: Until the Next Time (Paperback)
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You can read Kevin Fox's debut novel one of two ways. If you treat it like the suspense thriller the marketing boyos purport, you have an anarchic mishmash of stereotypes, boilerplate storytelling techniques, and short, frenetic scenes better suited to the big screen than to fixed type. If you treat it like a Monty Pythonesque satire of the thriller genre, then the confusing formulaic building blocks become part of the joke. I just can't tell which approach Fox intends.
On his twenty-first birthday, Sean Corrigan inherits the journal of an uncle he didn't know he had, along with a stack of cash, an airline ticket to Ireland, and a sacred mission to uncover the truth. Unfortunately, several pages are missing from the journal-- apparently the pages containing the most important secrets of his fugitive uncle's life. Every time Sean buttonholes somebody relevant to the decades-old mystery, he repeats some variation on this dialog:
"Your uncle bore some dark, threatening secrets."
"Can you tell me about him and his secrets, please?"
"It doesn't matter, and it's not my place to tell."
It got to where I couldn't decide who I wanted to slap more, Sean or his various interlocutors. On the one hand, Sean's frustrating passivity made me want to grab his lapels and shout at him to grow a pair. On the other hand, everyone around him wants to burden Sean knows something about him, to the point where it strains credibility. Dick Nixon wanted to hang Uncle Mike out to dry, and Sean never heard that story? From anybody? Ever? Please.
The bog standard foreshadowing becomes so tedious that the book descends into parody territory. Sean reads the entire journal in one sitting, yet releases it to us in dribs and drabs, so not only does everyone know more than Sean, but Sean knows more than us. The story intercuts between the past and present so furiously that you can hear the soap operatic organ music at scene changes. No character steps outside safe movie stereotypes at any point.
This book is either a joke notable for masterful deadpan, or the reductio ad absurdum of its genre. Because of the author's background in TV drama, I think he means it seriously. But that can't be, because it's so banal. Okay, then, joke it must be. Wokka wokka.