Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ravens - George Dawes Green

George Dawes Green
Grand Central


Shaw and his buddy, the improbably named Romeo, are on the run from their tech-support jobs in Ohio. Their plan, such as it is, is to drive Romeo’s car to Florida, get jobs on boats and work their way to Trinidad. A chance stop at a gas station in the small town of Brunswick, GA, changes all that. Inside the station, Shaw hears about a local family who just won $318 million in the lottery. He begins formulating his plan almost at once.

The Boatwright family can’t believe their good fortune. Their first thoughts are of all the great things the money will buy. Then they begin to plan how and when to tell people. Ten-year-old Jase spills the beans to a friend at school, and soon the news is everywhere. Now the various family members have to deal with congratulations, envy, blessings, and requests from all sides.

Enter Shaw, his gun, and his plan. He tells the family that he will be taking half their winnings. His associate, Romeo, is driving around town, checking in on all their family members. Should there be any resistance, Shaw will give the signal and his friend will begin killing those nearest and dearest to them. He has a cover story ready for the press, and tells the family that he only wants the money to do good things.

Readers who like every loophole closed and every loose end tied up may be disappointed with the outcome of this novel. But the truth is, human life is messy. The author switches points-of-view quite often, allowing the reader access to the thoughts of various members of the family, townspeople, and Romeo, on his endless drive. Sudden wealth brings sudden problems, even if those problems don’t carry guns. Friends and family members treat you differently; they’re jealous, they want or expect things. Or maybe the recipients of fortune only perceive that to be so.

Romeo is a flawed, sad character, clearly going along with the plan out of loyalty to Shaw. He vacillates between mindless bravado and utter hopelessness. Shaw has the courage of his convictions, but I was never sure whether he actually believed what he was saying or not. Not that it matters, since he’s the guy apparently in control. Watching each character fall into his/her own web of emotion was hypnotic. The finale feels sudden and sloppy, perfectly in tune with the various personalities in play. Every word and emotion rings absolutely true from the first page to the last.

Rating: 8 ½
July 2009
ISBN# 978-0-446-53896-1


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