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- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
The story of “Bam” Matthews comes at you like a Humphrey Bogart saga: film noire, complete with slow, blousy soundtrack, deep shadows and wisps of cigarette smoke in the air. Chunky, crude sarcasm aimed at solving a suspiciously unroutine murder, until Bam’s partner Billy dies…of Ebola.
Ebola B, that is. Airborne and so fast-acting that in two days the victim is dead, faster than the turn around time for a diagnosis.
Bam is devastated, and determined that, through the roadblocks of government agencies and mobsters who have it in for him, he’ll get to the Why and fix it.
Along the way, he meets an Angel of a woman – imagine Lauren Bacall, for consistency’s sake – who lifts him when he trips and grows him into a more complete man.
And then the World collapses. How Matthews navigates the mess is a juggernaut of Enright storytelling. How Enright resolves all this is a miracle, and best left to be discovered on one’s own. Trust me; you can’t put this book down.
As always, Larry plies his trade expertly. Bam is a solid character, gritty but likable. There’s a heart here that we can identify with. Izzy [Isabel], his Angel, fills in his deficiencies nicely. He’s needed her for a long time…
“‘I can hoof it from here.’
‘I’ll take you home, Bam.’
‘You’ve done enough thanks.’
She folded her arms across her chest and sized me up like she was trying to decide whether to punch me in the guts or kick me in the nuts. I was beginning to like this girl.”
More compelling – and a preview of things to come – though, is Bam’s reaction to Billy’s death…
“Time was wasting, but Time wasn’t Billy’s killer. It was Ebola. I stood at that booth, angry as hell at something so small it couldn’t be seen, a murderer without remorse, a killer, a stone-cold killer, just like Carmine [a mobster], only worse. I could empty my .38 into it, reload, and empty it again and still not stop it. There was no grabbing Ebola by the neck and beating the crap out of it, no locking it in jail and throwing away the key, and no bringing back Billy.”
[I’ve felt that way myself when faced with a loved one’s terminal medical crisis.]
But these features only occupy the top of the mountain. Once the story’s gravity begins rolling toward its breakneck conclusion, situations dovetail or unravel exponentially. Surprises are everywhere.
As Chapter 13 ends, it seems Enright’s wrung all the emotion possible from the devastation. But in the brevity of Chapter 14, he tugs once more, resolving the important issues on paper, and leaving the rest to one’s, by now, exhausted imagination.
Blacker Death is a tornado of a book. Make sure you’ve got some free time. You won’t want to do anything else.