I fell a little bit in love with Samuel Hawley, and I’m not usually the kind who goes for bad boys. You won’t find me on the back of anyone’s motorcycle or learning to shoot cans off a stump in the woods. My husband wooed me with an impressive vocabulary, a stable job, and a perfectly timed Hemingway pun. And, okay, yes, once by bending over to put on his shoes. I’m not a total square.
But Hawley is that very complicated kind of bad, the kind with a deeply seated sense of justice. A Clint Eastwood sense of justice that allows brutality but only when directed at the right people. He’s seen things. He’s done things. And he’s been in enough tight situations to know how to get out of them. That much is obvious—he’s been shot twelve times, and the novel is framed around the stories of each of those bullets meeting Hawley’s body. In between these flashbacks to Hawley’s checkered past is his present life with his teenage daughter, Loo. If Hawley seems like an unlikely type to be a single father, that’s because he is, and sometimes his parenting style is a bit, shall we say, unorthodox. But he loves his daughter, even if he’s not able to give her anything close to a normal life.
Hannah Tinti is clearly a writer who cares about craft. The structure of the novel is so intentional, reading the last chapters was like pulling up a well-oiled zipper. It all comes together so beautifully. I don’t mean all the details are neatly wrapped up and everything is perfect. It’s just that Tinti seems to have thought a lot about the reader’s experience. I’ll be very surprised if this doesn’t end up on my short list for favorite books of the year.
With regards to Dial Press and Goodreads for the advance copy, which I was tickled to win in a recent giveaway. On sale March 28!