BLACK FLY SEASON
Giles Blunt

 


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Berkley Paperback Issue, May 2006
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

When a pretty redhead drifts around a bar asking everyone there if they know who she is, it’s easy to assume she’s on drugs. Drugs are a problem in this section of Canada. Then a cop gets concerned enough to take her to the hospital, and an x-ray shows a fresh bullet in her brain.

The cops know the girl’s shooter will try again when he finds out he failed to kill her. They don’t know who the shooter is, but we do. We get to follow the viewpoint of a disconcerted poet named Kevin, whose drug gang was elbowed out by the biker gang Viking Riders. Kevin and his fellows are acquiring a new leader. Red Bear sweet talks these hapless youths and sets them back on the road to success, using techniques so horrific that the youngsters – and we – must be lulled into them.

Thrillers are usually centered around their plots. Move here, move there, keep the pattern whirling and weave the noose nice and tight. Not in BLACK FLY SEASON. Here the characters are everything. Drop them anywhere and they would do the same things. They love and fight and suffer and dominate and grope because they are who they are, from Red Bear himself, to the would-be suicide in a small room in a mental hospital who has maybe two pages of existence.

In this setting of lakes and greenery, waterfalls and caves, I could imagine having a grand time. But heaven preserve me from doing it in the company of Red Bear! Movie-star handsome in flashy white buckskin, with a snake-charmer smile, Red Bear carries an invisible chill that makes me think of the charismatic predator in James Ellroy’s BECAUSE THE NIGHT. Which puts author Giles Blunt in some major company indeed.

BLACK FLY SEASON is high-velocity, one-sitting drama. Giles Blunt has also written FORTY WORDS FOR SORROW and THE DELICATE STORM, the first and second of this series and both critically hailed, but I’m not ready for them yet. I need time to recover.

May 2006

 

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