Necessary Evil

David Van Meter, Author
David Van Meter, Author Little Brown and Company $19.95 (282p) ISBN 978-0-316-89729-7
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
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With an obvious gift for storytelling and plotting, Van Meter makes a notable debut with this dark, fast-moving thriller about obsession and violence. Billy McIlvain, haunted by a tragedy from his past, chronicles random episodes of his life: growing up with an alcoholic mother after his violent father abandons him; the murder of the grandfather he idolized; and the crime that led him to prison while still in his teens. In the present, McIlvain details his plans for an act of vengeance against one Charles Spencer Howe, who is apparently tied to the young man's past--a connection not revealed until the end of the novel, when the surprises explode like a string of firecrackers. The narrative jumps frequently from past to present and back again, mirroring the insane jumble that is McIlvain's life. Readers are invited at first to like and sympathize with this protagonist--an empathy that becomes horrifyingly impossible as layer after layer of character is slowly peeled away. A solid and disturbing piece of work. (July)
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