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verkisto

Shelf Indulgence

Books. Reviews.

Currently reading

Aftermath
Chuck Wendig
Dhalgren
Samuel R. Delany
Jackals
Charles L. Grant

The Man in the Brown Suit

The Man in the Brown Suit - Agatha Christie I was a little disappointed that this is a whole separate story from Symphony, with only a brief reference in the first chapter to the events that took place in the first volume of the series. I was hoping it would be a more legitimate series, with the same core characters appearing in all the novels leading toward a grand conclusion in book four. Instead, save for a couple of references to Casey Chisholm, the reverend from the first book, these appear to be like his Oxrun Station books -- standalone books set in the same universe.

Each book seems to be about one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with Symphony being about Death, and In the Mood being about Famine, but the associations so far are pretty tenuous. There was a lot of death in both books, and while Grant takes care to show a lot of the effects of famine in this book, that stuff is mostly just in the background. The real story is about John Bannock, a CPA-turned-writer who is estranged from his wife and son, who is being called home to participate in a grim family reunion. His son shows some supernatural abilities, but what it means is left rather nebulous until the final showdown.

I'm not sure what to make of this book, to be honest. There's enough going on to keep the story moving, but I wasn't clear on what it all meant. It doesn't help that the first two books in the series seem disconnected, and that the first book had a small victory at the end. Are the horsemen coming, or not? And what exactly happened at the end here between Bannock and his son, and what will it mean to the next two books? Or will those just wind up being further disconnected works?

Grant's style definitely improved over time, especially with his narrative flow, but I feel like this novel overall was just all over the place. He tackled a pretty big story with the series, but I expected each book to focus on the themes of each of the horsemen, instead of continuing to be small-town showdowns. Considering as far as I've come with his books and this series, I'm not going to give up on them, but I'm hoping there will be a bit more cohesion and resonance with the last two books.

Regardless, here's a reminder of why I keep reading his stuff:

"... a bass guitar vibrating softly like a silk and sticky web."

It's just a perfect description, in very few words, and evokes the right imagery for the scene.