One of the positive things about being in Lockdown is that I’m finally getting to catch up on some of the books that have been sitting on my To Be Read pile for a while.
It’s notable, I think, how publishing – which is, after all, increasingly part of the Entertainment industry – obsesses on novelty. A book comes out. It’s hot. Then it’s gone, and posting something like this reviewing and praising it months after it’s ‘been and gone’ is unusual.
But really: If we can’t wilfully abandon the prevalent standards in the middle of this global Craziness, when can we?
Books – as a very wise person once told me – do not cease to exist the week after Publication Day, so why – apart from the embarrassment of having to admit it’s taken me serval months to get around to reading it – should I worry about posting an appreciation of one here, well after Publication.
The book I want to bring to your attention – though many of you are already very familiar with it, thus making this piece even less relevant – is All Things Violent by Nikki Dolson.
Once upon a time, Laura Park was a normal college sophomore with her best friend at her side. A year later, Laura was on a deserted road on the outskirts of Las Vegas killing a man.
In Laura's world anyone can become a target, loyalties can shift in a blink of an eye, and when everyone is homicidal, people are definitely going to die.
I read the book a week or so ago, and I’m still obsessing about it. It’s funny, sexy, brutal, exciting, gripping, sad and ultimately a wonderful, razor-sharp and crow-dark slice of Noir that could easily sit alongside the classics of the genre. I’m now awaiting the announcement that Shonda Rhimes has optioned it, because if you can imagine stuffing David Caradine’s Kung Fu series in a Nutribullet with Lawrence Block’s Keller novels and Uma Thurman in Kill Bill then hitting Pulse you’d have some idea of the brilliance – and cinematicness* - of the book.
In my mind It’s a movie. One of those 80s highly stylised movies. Like One from the heart but with murder. Gore. Las Vegas lights - the city as ultra beauty but also dirty. Gaudy. But gorgeous.
One of the characters – a flash of hope in the gathering darkness of Laura’s story - and his ultimate destination - broke my heart a bit.
And Laura’s mentor Frank is the sort of character who’s backstory normally takes up half a Netflix season.
There’s a nihilism to the story that’s perfectly American. It reminded me in some places of American Psycho. But where that book revelled in a completely amoral self-centred view of the world, Dolson’s does what it singularly failed to do: there is hope in these characters. There is a code. There is honour. There is logic and error and humanity.
I’m in awe.
(*what? I'm a writer and I say it's a word).
Derek Farrell is the author of ‘Death of a Diva’ ‘Death of a Nobody,’ ‘Death of a Devil’ ‘Death of an Angel,’ and the novella "Death of a Sinner," all published by Fahrenheit Press.
His novella "Come to Dust" is available for free download from his website derekfarrell.co.uk
The books have been described as “Like The Thin Man meets Will & Grace.” “Like M.C. Beaton on MDMA,” and – by no less an expert than Eric Idle – as “Quite Fun.”
Derek’s jobs have included: Burger dresser, Bank teller, David Bowie’s paperboy, and Investment Banker, and he has lived and worked in New York, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Prague, Dublin, Johannesburg and London.
He’s married to the most English man on the planet and lives in West Sussex. They have no goats chickens children or pets, but they do have every Kylie Minogue record ever made.