NECESSARY EVIL by David A. Van Meter


Email this review


A boy is driven over the edge after witnessing the murder of his grandfather in this psychological thriller by the author of Body of Evidence (not reviewed). Billy McIlvain, beginning life again after 13 years in prison, narrates the story of his troubled childhood and adolescence. Grandad is the only person who cares about ten-year-old Billy. His mother, Grace, is an alcoholic. His father, Ned, is distant and unloving. A minor traffic accident following a blissful grandfather-grandson fishing trip leads to humiliation at the hands of a couple of thugs, who then murder Grandad with Billy's knife. The killers claim the murder was an act of self-defense and even sue the estate for psychological damages. Ned disappears as soon as he realizes there's no money to be had, and it gets even tougher to be Grace's child. Grace eventually pulls herself together and begins a lucrative real estate career, but still finds little time for her son. As a boy, Billy kills a dog and later aids a classmate's suicide. As a teenager, he seeks justice, first killing one of his grandfather's attackers and then coming to an odd, sympathetic agreement with the other. Billy arrives home that night to find Grace drunk and abusive, and he lashes out at the real cause of his misery. Thirteen years later, 33-year-old Billy is out of prison and determined to ""close the circle."" He's stalking a man he believes is his father with a new name and a new life. In a brutal climax, Billy exacts his revenge -- and it may not be the last time. Former TV producer Van Meter presents a compelling portrait of young Billy and the forces that shape him, but the adult Billy is less convincing and less interesting.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1994
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: "Little, Brown"