Wednesday, December 26, 2018

CEMETERY ROAD by Gar Anthony Haywood

I'm surprised that this isn't a more well-known bestseller. It shows that you can't always trust those sales numbers in a search for quality. Because this was one of the most well-crafted mystery novels I've read in a while. It follows a middle-aged repairman named Handy White who travels back to his native Los Angeles in a half-hearted attempt to look into the murder of an old friend, a murder that might have something to do with tragic events that happened in their younger days nearly 30 years prior.

Not only is it very well-plotted and entertaining with a perfect pace skillfully transitioning between the past and present stories to develop the mystery, but it also has prose that's at times incredible in it's sharp proficiency. It might not be the most surprising mystery, as it's fairly easy to figure out who's been doing what, but the book's strength is in how it gets there and how it tells it's story of guilt and remorse, debt, and redemption, and whether or not full redemption is ever really attainable.
Right around the time he hits his middle forties, a man starts giving serious thought to dying well. In his sleep, in his own bed, or in the course of a street fight meant to settle something meaningful. His end doesn't have to be poignant, just devoid of dignity. You wouldn't think that would be too much to ask. 
But how a man leaves this world, much like the way he comes into it, is almost never his own call to make, so evil men die on satin sheets in 400-dollar-a-night hotel rooms, while good ones breathe their last lying face down in cold, dark alleyways, their bodies growing stiff and blue on beds of rain-soaked newspaper.

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