To enter Sullivan's (All I Want Is Everything, 2013) first novel is to spend quality time with some of the worst people in the world. While the story turns on a plot of death and revenge, Sullivan’s true subject is the decay, human and otherwise, in the backwoods town of Larkhill, Ontario.
Two killings occur late one night: Connor Condon, who’s been a lifelong outcast because his name sounds vaguely sexual, runs afoul of local drug kingpin Astor Crane; Crane's two enforcers, brothers sporting identical ZZ Top beards, drill holes through his kneecaps. Meanwhile Jamie Garrison and Moses Moon, two barely functional workers at a meatpacking warehouse, strike and kill a lion belonging to Crane on the highway. While trying to elude Crane, Jamie has one of many blowups with his estranged wife and daughter. Moses searches for his missing mother, who is severely brain damaged from a bowling accident, and hangs out with his group of violent skinheads—one of whose father is an amateur surgeon who practices his cuts on his wife and child. When they finally meet the omnipotent Crane, his TV is symbolically tuned to The Wizard of Oz.
The narrative isn’t particularly linear, and all the characters prove beyond redemption. But Sullivan’s bile gives the story a definite grisly appeal and is guaranteed to make you feel better about wherever you happen to live.