Monday, November 16, 2009

Land of the Blind-Jess Walter

Land of the Blind
Jess Walter
Harper, Aug 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9780061712845

Spokane detective Caroline Mabry knows she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following her recent case (see Over Tumbled Graves). However, she is on the night shift trying to overcome the emotional crippling of burnout that has devastated her recent performance when self made millionaire Clark Mason enters the station in the early morning hours to confess he committed a murder. Caroline finds herself shocked by an attraction to Clark with his black eye patch, but lectures herself to stick to the facts.

Clark begins writing down his Statement of Fact on legal sized paper starting with his childhood betrayal of Eli Boyle whom he sacrificed his friend so he could avoid a beating from preadolescent bully Pete Kramer and again at the high school prom. Mason says he and Boyle created a video game together Empire that led to the latter’s death. Caroline follows up on names Clark gives her, but struggles to find the corpse he alleges exists.

This is an odd well written police procedural in which the alleged culprit confesses to the cop before the corpse is found. The story line is at its best when Mason sadly muses on his weaknesses as he reflects back on his life and his negative dependency relationships with Boyle and Kramer. When the plot focuses on Mabry’s investigation, it remains grim as she empathizes with him that life is violent, nasty, and ugly; just the way Spokane comes across. Although very little action occurs, fans who relish a vivid but pessimistic look at humanity will either climb on the ledge with Mabry and Mason or shout at them to jump.

Harriet Klausner