Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Jason Starr: Savage Lane

As I've said a hundred times before, Jason Starr is one of my all-time favourite writers: nasty, twisted, funny, fluent. He's very readable and catchy, yet there's nothing amiable about his book. At the same time you really care for his characters, they are not mere pawns in the game.

Starr's newest book Savage Lane marks his return to noir thriller and does it with a wicked punch. Starr treads the same ground as Gillian Flynn, but there's nothing to suggest he's just going after a trend. This is his territory, pure and simple. 

There's something different this time, however. Savage Lane is set in the healthy suburbs, not the seedy downtown and the facile city of his earlier novels. Savage Lane is about the not-so-healthy relationships born out of the shallowness of suburban life and the self-treachery of the people inhabiting the nice homes. Starr's stablemate, sociopathic liars, figure greatly in the novel, and Starr's use the unreliable narrator is matchless. The shifts in the narration and what they reveal about the characters is laugh-out-funny. The timing is perfect. Yet there's no crime almost halfway in. When it comes, it's almost a shock - and after we've gotten over it, we start to laugh. 

Savage Lane is actually a pretty savage book. It's Desperate Housewives meets Psycho. Megan Abbott is right saying: "Who but Jason Starr could render suburban vice pitch black, sneakily endearing and wickedly funny all at once? Like James M. Cain meets Tom Perrotta, Savage Lane shows, in grand style, how twisted the hearts of All-American families can be, and how those picket white fences can be dangerously sharp."

Read more about the book at the Polis Books site (they seem to be doing good work bringing out new noir and hardboiled thrillers, alongside the more traditional ones) and at LitReactor where Keith Rawson has some nice things to say about the book. 

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