Wanna go down a really, really dark rabbit hole and feel pretty gross about the world you live in when you come back out? Then read Robert Pobi’s American Woman, this book will suit all your squicky needs! Let me first say that my mom recommended this book to me. This reminds me that she reads some twisted materials…but she makes really good suggestions! So thanks Ma (she signed up for Cannonball Read, then punked out and is now a lurker–yeah, I’m calling you out, lady friend).
Alexandra Hemingway (really? That name? It threw me off EVERY DAMN TIME I SAW IT ON THE PAGE. I’m sorry, it’s just too much of a name–like a pure bred dog. Or am I the problem? I hope not) is a homicide detective and she’s what Samuel L. Jackson would call a bad ass mother fu…well you know. Coincidentally, she’s just learned that she’s going to be a mother, if she decides to be one. After working in homicide and seeing crimes that most of us could only picture in our nightmares, she’s not quite sure if she wants to bring a child into this world. She has a boyfriend whom she loves and who loves her despite the fact that, it appears that she lacks all emotion. She is a machine. Her job requires it of her, and I think to understand the evil that she surrounds herself in might require her to embrace it, more than a little. Alex was made for her job, she understands evil and she’s able to see the face of evil a little earlier than most everyone else. Coming from an extreme life of privilege (which is where she got that beast of a name I’m guessing–seriously let’s just call her Thurston Howell III, can we? Please?) she never fit in, she wasn’t made country clubs and cute white tennis outfits. Alex was born to catch bad guys, exact revenge just toeing the line of impropriety, and putting grizzly puzzle pieces together that nobody would want to do for any amount of money. And boy,what a puzzle–an anatomical one.
Someone is abducting 10 year old, extremely affluent boys and within a short period of time, mutilating them and taking a “prize” home and then putting their bodies in the river when finished. Hemingway and her partner quickly twist the murder rubiks cube, then play connect the dead kid body part dots and find someone very bad, very sick…and very… (SPOILER??? I think it might get mentioned in other reviews and it occurs very early but if not, skip to the next paragraph–go along now, skip)…dead who was responsible for the most recent missing children (amongst others). Yet within minutes of finding this body, it is clear that there is yet another killer out there, perhaps not so much of a collaborator, but a competitor. One whose MO is escalating at lightning speed and can swipe boys right from under the noses of a major police task force who are attempting to stop the killer in his/her tracks.
I read this book in one sitting. I’m completely jaded and hardened-even having two sons (and a sweet toe headed little gal) so I felt nothing while reading…(lies). Luckily, I’m not affluent so I have nothing to worry about (I jest). What I mean to say that this is a grisly book and it’s not something you can read without thinking about some of the details more than once, particularly for me as I kissed my kids and tossled their hair while glancing up from the page–so yeah, how ’bout that bravado about being jaded earlier? It’s not going so well. The writing is superb, while the cruelty is laid out for the reader as if we were looking at crime scene photos as we (like Hemingway), attempt to see what could possibly be divined from the carnage. We are spared no details. To say I enjoyed this book would be an odd thing to state. I liked the writing. I’ll read more of Pobi (he apparently has a wealth of dark tales–he’s no Lehane, but it gave me similar feelings but less connection to the main character. We know Patrick is affected by what he sees. I don’t get that from Alex). Pobi left me thinking. He left me questioning what toll it must take on a human being who constantly sees the worst of humanity; particularly a person who doesn’t have to have this job. She enjoys it and what the hell does that say?
PS. When it comes to parentheses, clearly ee cummings has nothing on me. I’d apologize but this will continue. I am (if nothing else), tangential.