by Richard A. Thompson
Hard Cover from Poisoned Pen Press
2009 release, 222 pages
A dark and in some ways, sad and vicious novel of demons and their aftermaths. Herman Jackson, now a bail bond operator in St. Paul, Minnesota, after some difficulties in Detroit as a youngster, has a fairly settled life in the capital city. One of his regulars is a disturbed veteran of the Viet Nam war with the unfortunate name, Charlie Victor. Victor is the catalyst.
This novel is well-conceived and executed. It grabs you early on and maintains a relentless pace, even in its flashbacks, something not easy to do. On the surface, Herman Jackson undertakes a quixotic effort to determine why the homeless Victor is suddenly and brutally murdered on the street in broad daylight. But as the story develops we become aware that more is going on here than first perceived. A simple story line has developed tentacles and layers of intrigue and darkness. Herman Jackson requires a variety of questionably acquired skills to stay ahead of Charlie’s killers and the forces that motivate them. And as the novel continues we come to understand that the journey involves more than just a simple quest for answers.
The darkness that stalks this story is leavened by the cynical, wise-cracking voice of Mr. Jackson. His attitudes are well-founded. He’s seen and experienced enough of the venality of society’s representatives, whether they reside on the side of the dark angels or of the haloed ones. “Frag Box” is not a perfect novel, but if some of the fantasies serve the story more than reality, well, the totality is well worth a few minor lapses. Kudos to Mr. Thompson. Here’s an author definitely worth paying attention to. I look forward to Mr. Thompson’s next effort.