Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Review: Galveston by Nik Pizzolatto

Galveston by Nik Pizzolatto

Hardcover, 258 pages

Published June 15th 2010 by Scribner Book Company

Edgar Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2011)

The love for HBO’s True Detective really set the bar high for this debut novel by the TD scribe Pizzolatto. I know it came first, but the majority of the people who have now read it, or will read are folks who loved TD and went back to check it out. That is what I did. It is true, as far as crime shows go TD broke a lot of amazing new ground. Mostly this was done with amazing performances by the lead actors and a tight plot that used all kinds of elements inspired by works of dark literature. The fact that an obscure dark fiction classic like the King in Yellow was a trending topic is a miracle that Pizzolatto deserves credit for. Lets not forget the attention he got for awesome cult dark fiction writers like Thomas Liggotti and Laird Barron.

It is really unfair to compare the two. A novel is written alone, and while it is a very good novel, the level of genius that TD reached is hard to do for one author and a keyboard to do. I mean think of all the great people Pizzolatto had helping him. I think the atmosphere created by the director and the actors were a massive part of why that show worked.

Galveston is a very, very good crime novel. Solid in every respect but it is not mind bendingly fantastic or awe-inspiring. He is getting all the attention now but I don’t think he has anything on southern crime writers like Joe R. Lansdale, but Pizzolatto scored big with True Detective and it earned its praise.

The plot of this novel is simple the delivery and how the story rolls out might be a little similar to TD, but shit let’s try and stop with the comparisons. Roy is a dying thug. Probably cancer, his lungs look snowey on a X-ray. His boss tries to have him killed and he just barely escapes with a young prostitute named Rockey. Roy helps Rockey pick up her sister and in the end up hiding in Texas on the beach.

It can’t be that simple, as Roy’s former boss wants them dead. Rockey and Roy don’t have a romance but their story takes many twists. I found this novel to be engaging and well written. The story moves well, and it is more subtle than TD, but there are hidden gems of well thought-out character moments mixed in with some moments of brutal action.

Worth a read, but not as mind blowingly good as I was hoping. It will help tide you over until the next season of True Detective, but I also think the Bottoms or Leather Maiden by Lansdale would be even better.

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