Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When his daughter is killed senselessly by a disfigured drifter named Mr. Shivers, Marcus Connelly travels across the Despression-stricken country for vengeance in the company of several hobos, each with a reason for wanting Mr. Shivers dead...
This tale of death in the Dustbowl was an odd animal to pin down. The pursuit of a mysterious man in gray echoed the beginning of The Gunslinger. Much like the first volume in the epic Dark Tower series, Mr. Shivers is a novel of obsession and relentlessness. How far would you be willing to go to achieve your goals?
The writing reminds me of Joe Lansdale's more literary works like The Bottoms. The subject matter, however, has echoes of Steppenwolf, The Man Who Was Thursday, and Cormac McCarthy. When you track down great evil, you have to fight hard to avoid getting swept up by it. The metaphysical questions the book raises make this more than a Depression-era horror novel.
For a book that's less than 350 pages, it's fairly powerful. It might be overly ambitious for a first novel, though. The concepts were great and Mr. Shivers was suitably creepy but I didn't think Connelly or his hobo compatriots were very fleshed out. The book also seemed really linear and could have made more use of the hobo culture of the Great Depression.
At the end of the day, I'm not even really sure how I felt about it. I loved some of the ideas presented but the story itself was lacking. I guess we'll call it a three out of five.
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