CUTDOWN by John A. Miller

CUTDOWN

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Rugged, gory, misanthropic tale of a Vietnam vet turned lawyer who can't keep himself away from sleazy characters and the trouble they bring. San Franciscan Claude McCutcheon, first seen as a naive soldier flummoxed by his girlfriend's pregnancy in ``Bethune, South Carolina'' (from Miller's story collection, Jackson Street, 1995), resembles the burned-out, hard-punching movie heroes Clint Eastwood used to play. Before we meet him, a dark prologue describes a Nazi POW's murderous escape from a Virginia internment camp and the obsessive but ultimately futile efforts of Prince George County Sheriff A.G. Farrell to recapture him. Thirty pages, and nearly fifty years later, McCutcheon, a bearded, cotton-shirt-and-blue-jeans loan wolf who spends more time working out in the gym than in a courtroom, swaggers into Berkeley's holding tank to extract Bobby Norton--a disreputable nightclub owner being held for questioning in the fatal shooting of lawyer Myron Hirsch, a zealous ``radical environmentalist'' who indulged in blackmail. At about this time, McCutcheon also draws the distant attentions of Margaret Stewart Tikkanen, the beautiful ice queen CEO of a phenomenally profitable northern California lumber company that had been the target of Hirsch's public and private scheming. McCutcheon's acidic dislike for phony mystics, bed-hopping Berkeley professors, liberals, and such grotesques as Feather Rainforest, a fearsomely fat ecoterrorist (and her whining, sociopathic son Wolf Walks Far) doesn't justify the cruel action-movie fates these figures meet here. Meantime, the lawyer himself takes as many blows as he gives, including a pistol-whipping and stabbing. Varying slightly from the formula, Miller follows the requisite slam-bang climax with a series of what-it-all-means meditations about the relationship between a soldier's duty and what survival demands. A tentative, turbulent, yet promising first novel that aspires, somewhat unsuccessfully, to a grand statement on personal destiny and military honor.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-671-56904-X
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1997




MORE BY JOHN A. MILLER

FictionCOYOTE MOON by John A. Miller
by John A. Miller
FictionTROPICAL HEAT by John A. Miller
by John A. Miller
FictionCAUSES OF ACTION by John A. Miller
by John A. Miller