A 103-year-old nursing-home resident knows the deep, dark secrets behind a sniper’s serial killings. How many more will die before she’s done telling her tale?
Gregory’s novel revolves around a serial sniper who hunts down gay men, as told by an elderly nursing-home resident to a reporter for The American Statesman. Meanwhile, Matt Bell struggles to resume his life after being shot by the sniper. Matt and his coterie of friends are the most germane, developed characters, all painted in tender, realistic hues. They’re a close-knit group, and beneath the wisecracks and smirks, it’s clear that they’ll defend each other no matter what. Boys being boys, however, they each carry a torch that not even death can extinguish. And it’s here, in the flashbacks, daydreams and other bouts of self-pitying malaise, where the novel loses its steam. While it’s admirable for Gregory to address what besets much of the lavender class, be it in bars or in hospices, the heartfelt insight takes away from the edge-of-the-seat suspense that’s indicative of a crime story. During certain passages—Gregory expertly handles the shootings, fear, secrets and obsessions, the twists, turns and terror—the plot is incredibly compelling, and readers will keep turning pages. When Bell describes being shot by the sniper, it’s about as succinct and compelling as a thriller can get. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come until 54 pages into the book, and only after Gregory soaks his story with adjectives, similes (sometimes as many as four in a single paragraph) and heavy-handed metaphors.
When Gregory sticks to the facts of his fiction, letting the action take over and the characters speak for themselves, he unleashes a riveting thriller.