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Prior to that, the book takes a long look at the lead character’s life and his divorce situation with his ex. There are also lengthy chapters devoted to the book’s antagonist, detailing how he became a delinquent, and showing how his path led him to the same place and time as the father and his sons. I plodded through most of those.
It’s a slow-reading character tale, when I expected a fast-paced riveting story. For that reason, I have to give the book three stars.
The pace of the novel begins quite slowly, giving the reader plenty of time to get to know the character's two protagonists: Keith, the struggling, divorced father of two who finds himself in a situation this will be all-too-familiar to those who have done no wrong except make a few bad choices; and Nicky, a young man fresh out of prison, rough and happy that way.
Miller does a fantastic job of making these characters fully-developed and relatable. It would be easy for the young ex-con and the single father to be clichés or caricatures, the type seen often on any number of police-related TV shows. Instead, we are given full backgrounds on the two men; what happened to them and how they ended up where they are now. There is a fascinating contrast between the two in that Keith is a good man but questions the choices he has made and makes, while Nicky is cruel and remorseless but never doubts what he does.
The exposition of these two is what makes the climax of the novel, when they finally meet, so interesting. However, they do not meet until the very end of the story, so it would be wrong to expect a story of constant conflict. Instead, Miller slowly builds up the suspense as the two men move closer and closer to the moment they will meet. The reader knows it is going to happen and as each action brings them nearer, the suspense builds until it bursts, much like the banks of the canal in the final scenes.
The storm which causes this is described in wonderful detail, bursting into the story as unexpectedly as it would be to the characters and having a huge influence on what happens. The story ends with some nice intrigue as well, leaving the reader to wonder what will happen to Keith, his sons and everyone else.
All in all, this is an excellently written thriller, full of suspense and bursts of action that never fail to draw you in and keep you entertained. Beneath that, though, is a deeper story of family love, attempted redemption and the tale of how a man can easy fall through the system into deeper darkness. Just don’t expect an episode of 24 with non-stop action; this is more akin to the quality of a show like The Wire, but all the better for being a book!
Jeffrey Miller has written an emotional thriller that I hated to see end.
This book reminded me of the relationship I had with my father. For that memory alone, I am truly thankful.