Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review: Internecine by David J. Schow

Internecine by David J. Schow

Hardcover, 341 pages

Published August 2010 by Thomas Dunne Books

I am a huge of David J. Schow, and have been for many many years. His short story collection Seeing Red is one of the best single author collections I've ever read. I met David at a signing for the Midian Unmade tribute anthology here in San Diego and he was charming. I liked him as much as person.

So I decided it was time to go back and catch up on his thrillers. So I started with this 2010 novel. The story of Conrad Maddox an ad executive in LA who hates his life. He calls the people living their normal lives "The Walking Dead" and very much thinks of himself in those ranks. That is until he finds a briefcase full of guns. This sets off a series of events that drags Conrad into the internal conflict of an international crime ring.

This novel has a Hitchcock man on the run style story however it doesn't globe hop, it is confined to the city of Los Angeles. Schow shows great passion for his city through out the 341 pages, one neat aspect of the novel are nuggets of LA history spread through-out the book. A scene doesn't just take place on Muholland Drive, but DJS very effectively weaves in the street's history and that of the person it was named for. In many ways it was my favorite aspect of the novel.

Conrad is a man in over his skates, shot a gun once years ago and now is in the middle of fire fights. Exchanging verbal jabs with hired killers and gangsters. How he handles this is well told through a very personal first person narrative. Schow is playful with the rules of writing, showing all his cards and often breaks the fourth wall to good effect. I think the suspense is lacking here compared to some of his other works. What makes the novel enjoyable is how the characters interact and how Schow plays with convention.

The negative is that this novel is not a easy breezy read, you can end up scratching your head from time to time trying to figure out what Schow is doing, but if you pay close attention you will be rewarded.I don't think it is Schow at his best, but Schow is such an amazing writer you still end up with a very fun piece of work.

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