Once We Were Friends by Bryan Mooney

Once We Were Friends

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mooney (Eye of the Tiger, 2014) blends mystery, romance, and nostalgia while weaving a tale of personal history and human darkness.

Waves of violence swamp Timmy Walker’s past, but after long years in prison and nigh-endless appeals, it’s all about to end. Today is the day of Timmy’s execution. His lawyer, Nate, attempts one last Hail Mary attempt to stay the execution, but it doesn’t look good, despite Timmy’s confidence. Meanwhile, the day is a different sort of end for Carol, a literary agent who’s made her career on the writings of Mitch Patterson, an ex-cop who was once Timmy’s best friend as well as his most tragic victim. On the final stops of Mitch’s book tour, she finds herself caught up in reading his new project, an autobiographical novella called Summertime, which details the start of it all, from his family and the hints of literary aspiration to his first love and the stirrings of Timmy’s dark side, all in the summer of 1959. That knowledge of Timmy’s criminal future, as seen in the book within a book, casts a sickly pallor over the quaint portrait of Americana, lending the story a greater sense of depth and suspense. On the other hand, the sparse writing style in Mitch’s novella is a bit too similar to the chapters surrounding it, sometimes making for awkward transitions. The prose does have brilliant moments, particularly in a vivid romantic scene featuring an intimate Korean tea service, but these episodes aren’t frequent enough. In the end, the novel’s conclusion feels truncated, and the characters in the present are underused: one woman, Sari Novak, has a significant connection to Timmy, but she has no real story arc in the present. The ending seems to abruptly grasp at the loose ends of Summertime and rapidly tie them to the present, without the time or care needed to craft a powerful emotional resolution. Nevertheless, this tale of American adolescence is a strong one, and its connections to grisly crime and tragedy add to the allure.

A dynamic concept with some powerful moments that falls just short of being something truly remarkable.

Pub Date: May 8th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1511532662
Page count: 232pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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