Friday, March 2, 2012

Mike Dellosso's "Frantic"

Marny Toogood is a pump jockey at a gas station in Maine. A car arrives at the station, driven by a rather large man with a young woman sitting in the back seat. Marny’s taken by her eyes, which seem to follow him around the car. He’s also taken by the note she leaves behind on the ground: “He’s going to kill me.”

The car drives off. Marny stares at the note. And then he acts, and fast, running to jump in a car to give follow them.

Marny’s life is going to change forever.

Thus tarts Mike Dellosso’s new novel Frantic, and a frantic ride of a story it is. Marny, who carries considerable baggage from his past that includes what he believes is a curse in his relationships, will discover and accept a new role in his life: to save and protect the girl, Esther, and her brother William. They are being held captive by Gary, the driver of the car, who believes 11-year-old William is the anointed one who needs his protection, because the voice in his head tells him so.

And to protect William, Gary will leave a trail of bodies across New England. Running from Gary, Marny, Esther and William flee to Esther’s father, only to find themselves in the arms of an even greater evil.

I’ve read all of Dellosso’s previous novels – Scream, The Hunted, Darlington Woods, and Darkness Follows – and this is his best yet (and the first four were all good). In Frantic, he’s taken his writing and storytelling skills to a new level. In the process of terrifying the reader, Dellosso also writes a compelling, believable story. The writing is simple, straightforward narrative, and conveys an urgency that builds and builds, and even includes one unforgettable car chase scene.

He draws the characters of Marny, Esther and William with care and even love. They become real characters the reader comes to care deeply about (and terrified for). And yet Dellosso also makes Gary a three-dimensional villain, gradually revealing what has turned him into a ruthless killer.

Marny finds himself unable to save Esther and William until he realizes that he has to surrender control of himself. This is the larger theme of Frantic, one Dellosso has developed fully and well in all of his novels but especially so in this one.


nance marie said...

good book review

Louise Gallagher said...

C.C. my beloved, will be thrilled when I gift him with this book -- all because of you!

He really likes Dellosso too.