Monday, April 11, 2005

More on Peter Temple and Shooting Star

I'm still in a Temple sort of mood!

Things I loved about Shooting Star:

1) Descriptions. Temple's style is sparse, but when he decides to use precious narrative time to describe people or places, every word packs a punch. Here's an example of the way Frank Calder describes the place the kidnap victim was allegedly last seen in:

I went for a walk down the street, around the corner, in the glass side door of TRIPLE ZERO!, the record store. I was in a small vestibule, pulsating music audible, facing another door. I opened it and the sound was like a blow to the whole upper body. It hit you, then it invaded you, stuck probes up your nose, into your mouth. My filings seemed to be transmitting sound and I could taste them. I subdued the impulse to flee, stood my ground. When my brain accepted that it could function in these conditions, I went around the bend into the long leg of the store. (p76)
I remember stores just like this one from my college days, small, cluttered, noisy, impossibly crowded stores that just vibrated with sound.

2) The ending. Unlike many mysteries, crime novels, and thrillers, in Shooting Star all the narrative threads are not tidily concluded. Yes, the main crime, which is the kidnapping, is solved and the case closed, but several other related possible-crimes are not. These are intentionally ignored, giving the reader an ambiguous resolution -- has justice truly been served? by what means? is there a murderer still on the loose? were other family members involved in criminal activities? The reader gets partial answers to these questions, much like Frank himself, who has his own theories but nothing to prove them with.

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