Friday, August 12, 2016

Disappearance at Devil's Rock

Finished reading "Disappearance at Devil's Rock" by Paul Tremblay and I'm going to put it on the recommended list for 2016 novels. This is one of a handful of works I've read this year that seem directly influenced or reacting to the True Detective phenomena from a couple years back. The first season, I mean, not the second.

The influence in the case of Tremblay is of an established weird fiction writer (His story "Swim Wants to Know If It's As Bad As Swim Thinks" was one of my favorites from the Best Weird Fiction Vol. 1 anthology) embracing the ambiguity of a vaguely supernatural, philosophy major-baiting crime thriller. Like True Detective, the layers of narrative and contradictory witnesses all work to cultivate doubt and suspicion. Unlike True Detective, the setting here is a very fleshed-out and specific evocation of childhood in the media inundated 21st century. Far from lamenting the presence of cell phones, internet, and the 24 hour blizzard of cable news, Tremblay embraces it as one more piece of the horror of the novel. Everyone feels as though they are connected, aware at all times of what surrounds them. Yet, the book suggests that a few misspent evenings and a couple instances of misplaced trust is all that's needed for the lives of a three children to be irrevocably changed.

I'm recommending this book despite some flaws in its narrative. Tremblay is probably trying to say something about trust and our ability to place belief in other people but the lies his plot depends on stretch plausibility. This isn't something that hits you at first and the ending of the book is quite satisfying but the jump between the indistinct menace of the first half of the book to the overt evil of the second is jarring and strains the suspension of disbelief.

***

The next chapter of "Agent Shield and Spaceman" is now available. As the agents draw closer to the Thulewaite Ranch, one member of the team reveals a  useful talent.



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