Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cemetery Road -- Gar Anthony Haywood

The book opens with an intriguing prologue: three young men in Los Angeles are burning $140,000. We aren't told why. Flash forward 26 years. One of the men is found in an automobile trunk. He's been shot to death. The other two show up at his funeral. One of them, O'Neal Holden, has become a successful politician. The other, Handy White, is a fix-it man in Minnesota, having fled California in fear of his life. After his friend's funeral, he goes right back home, where he plans to stay.

But he doesn't. The manner of his old friend's death nags him, and Handy returns to California to see what he can find out, even though he knows what it might mean for him if he digs into the past. As he learns more about his old friend's life, the reader gradually learns more about the $140K, where it came from, and why it was burned. Handy learns about himself and about the consequences of his youthful actions. Faulkner said that the past isn't dead. It isn't even past. Ross Macdonald used that idea to great effect, and I was reminded a bit of his work by what Haywood does here. At the end, Handy says his account with the past is closed and that he has the future to fear now. Well, maybe. But it's clear from the ending that the past still isn't dead.

Haywood's writing and plotting are tight, and Handy's voice carries the story well. This is good stuff. Check it out.

1 comment:

Vince said...

One of the better books I've read this year. A real favorite.