Email this review


Blaine’s first outing is a brutal, emotionally undercooked saga of a schizophrenic inmate who has a grievance against mom and dad, gets a big fast gun and does quick simple harm. After Maurice Coleman slips out the door of the institution near his hometown of Accordia, New York, and buys a machine gun from the trunk of a car outside a diner, the Coleman family kicks into high gear—too late, as luck would have it, to prevent the plot from getting started. Nathan, Maurice’s divorced father, begins a personal search through the snow for the troubled boy, sure that his strangeness will dissolve with a new handful of pills and his father’s embrace. But Moira, Maurice’s free-spirited, single mother, is first on her son’s hit list, mostly because she never visited her boy in the pen. Lured to a hunting cabin with her daughter (Maurice’s sister Crissie), Moira is joined by Nathan—and the family reunion is a bloody mess. Crissie escapes and retrieves a state trooper who returns to add his blood to the festivities, allowing Crissie to return as yet unharmed. As a negotiating ploy, Moira tells Maurice that Nathan is not his father—real Dad is Vince, a Roman-god—like lawyer with whom Moira has had a long-running affair. At Maurice’s request, Vince is brought in to prepare the boy’s will. Then Crissie dances naked in front of her brother, the cops storm the place, people die, and mom regrets trying to shoot her son near the end. These few column inches of narrative meat float in a thin broth of reflections, flashbacks, regrets, loyalties, and resentments, each emotion told by its possessor. A tale that ends with happiness, hard wisdom, and matured strength for those who survive. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-688-16441-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1999