Cop with relationship problems meets a psychopath computer repairman; differences of opinion ensue.
To say that Nova (Wetware, 2001, etc.) takes the road of understatement would be—an understatement. His ostensible protagonist, Russell Boyd, is a highway patrolman who seems to have his life pretty much buttoned down. The job isn’t exciting, but it’s also not nearly as dangerous as people would like to believe. Plus, he’s got a girlfriend, Zofia, who seems to appreciate his quiet, no-risk-taking, slow-and-steady demeanor and is committed to him in a way that’s not cloying or overly marriage-focused. Contrasted with Boyd, however, is Frank Koehler, a computer technician living by himself with an unhealthy desire to keep hunters and fisherman off his land. Lonely and looking for companionship, he decides to get a mail-order bride from Russia—not likely a good idea for either him or her. Not long after the grasping bride, Katryna, has showed up and proven to be not quite what he’d expected, Frank starts edging out of his barely sane state. Russell has a brief run-in with Frank when he takes Zofia and a couple of her schoolchildren on a fishing trip that happens to put them on Russell’s land. It’s nothing serious, just an odd encounter with a socially maladjusted man zealous about property lines, but it sets the stage for their confrontation later on, when Frank has finally snapped. Nova sets down both men’s march toward fate with a blank, determined voice that ruthlessly weeds out any sentimentality or emotional fripperies—almost making it difficult to sustain much interest in the narrative, which can seem half-asleep. As deadly details mount, though—violence creeps up unexpectedly: menacing traffic stops, a dull domestic dispute that explodes in gunfire—things take on a weighty and inevitable solemnity.
Like a depressing tale of crime and woe from the evening news but shorn of tabloid extravagance—and with an uncommonly human sensibility.