Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Alan Guthrie's "Slammer": Book Review

Down the rabbit hole, prison style. Scottish guard, seven weeks on the job, finds himself trapped by a nightmarish chain of compromises. I can't reveal anything that'd spoil the plot of this psychologically complex thriller. It moves as rapidly as an action film, largely in dialogue that does not pander to noir cliché or police conventions.

Guthrie keeps upping the ante. The novel convincingly takes you through a logical cause-and-effect scenario for two hundred pages. Then, he drops you in the last fifty pages off the deep end. You're left to figure it out, with some hints. Still, the final section does hold many surprises.

Parts reminded me of a Beckett story turned into Hitchcock mystery. Existential dread contends with brutal menace. Characters are relatively few and the plot stays streamlined to maximize tension. It's a satisfyingly disturbing entertainment, one you may be glad not to be experiencing except on the page. (Posted to Amazon 9-26-09)

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