Book Beat: Cape Disappointment: a Novel

  • Tue Feb 17th, 2009 11:34pm
  • Life
Book Beat:  Cape Disappointment: a Novel

I picked this book up while waiting for the ferry in the way that you take a sandwich that a friend has offered you; you didn’t pick the sandwich. You didn’t make the sandwich. Really, the sandwich would not be your first choice. But surprisingly, the sandwich, you find, is tasty and interesting.

This is a roundabout way of saying I don’t usually read suspense novels, but I just opened the book and started reading, with no pre-conceptions in place at all, and I found the book well-written, engrossing, and a little bit on the violent side at first, but the violence served the plot well and it was not gratuitous.

A private eye named Thomas Black, who is involved in campaigning for a politician whose dealings are suspect, is badly wounded when a bomb goes off at a political rally. Bereft of his memory, and hallucinating, Thomas recovers and we see snippets and scenes from his life. This book has shadows of “Johnny Got His Gun” as well as the movie “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, as the hallucinations, visions, and scenes are all very well-fleshed out and not at all confusing….most of the time. Every once in a while I had to re-read the first paragraph of a beginning chapter to make sure I understood where Thomas was, but the layering and the narrative tone of the novel are compelling. Black has a dry wit, is fond of the ladies, and has several very eccentric friends and compatriots who drop in on him in various ways…one of which includes breaking into his home while he’s watching television. The dialogue is very well done, as well, and the novel is set in Seattle and local people may be comforted by the landmarks and the references to Ballard, Wallingford, and Queen Anne.

It’s a mystery, a novel of suspense, and structured in such a way that the reader begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together as the main character moves through the scenes of his life. It does work, and I would recommend it, even though I have not read a political thriller in quite a while.