Written by Jake Hinkson — Saint Homicide opens with the narrator of this tale, Daniel, in prison. He explains that he’s guilty of the crime he’s been convicted for and this gritty noir novella explains how he ended up inside.
Daniel is an anti-abortionist, somewhere in America’s Bible Belt. So strong are his convictions that he resigns from his job after an altercation with his boss. In addition he’s fallen out with pretty much everyone else, even his fellow Baptist churchgoers. Outside work Daniel has a trying life. His wife Jennifer was badly hurt in a car accident and now, with half her face missing, exists as a recluse and the medical bills are mounting. Daniel really couldn’t afford to quit his job – but principles are everything to a man like him. Because of her injuries, Daniel can’t bring himself to touch her, but his needs keep bubbling to the surface.
As he broods, his mother-in-law calls and asks him to help find Jennifer’s 18-year-old sister, Lynn, who’s gone missing. He heads first to the video store where her no good boyfriend works. The mother-in-law is convinced he’s taken Lynn off the straight and narrow. The store turns out to supply adult material and Daniel finds himself conflicted. He wants release, but feels God’s eyes on him. Daniel decides the temptation is there to test him and that he’s been given an important task. Can he see it through?
At around 13,000 words, Saint Homicide is a fast read. It always interests me to see what a writer can achieve with a limited space to work in. The story is well written and sufficiently engaging to keep you reading from cover to cover. However, I struggled to connect with the story and the strong religious element was a factor I didn’t like.
Daniel, through his hunt for Lynn, is subject to greater and greater temptation, culminating in an attempted rape. He’s unpleasant, even putting his zeal to one side. Largely unsympathetic to his wife, he’s also dismissive of his friends and neighbours if they don’t follow his way of thinking. That I dislike him so much shows the author has done well, but I failed to empathise with him. As Saint Homicide is written in the first person there’s no escaping Daniel, we get to hear and feel all his weaknesses, experience his blind spots and ultimately how he faces up to God’s challenge in the strongest of fashions. Although a good read it does feel like there’s something missing from Saint Homicide – in the end I didn’t care enough…
CFL Rating 3 Stars