This Is What We Do

Tom Hansen, Author
Tom Hansen. Emergency Press (PGW, dist.), $16 (320p) ISBN 978-0-9836932-2-2
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Hansen's noirish debut novel charts recovering alcoholic James Nethery's curious role in stoking a global revolution. Wandering aimlessly in Paris, Nethery catches news that the Occupy-like People's Mafia has begun murdering bankers, leaving their slogan, "This is What We Do," scrawled near the corpses. He meets Lily, a Ukrainian former model turned prostitute, in a brothel and the two develop a primal attraction to one another. Nethery kills Claude Dutronc, Lily's cruel former modeling agent, when he discovers Claude and his minions viciously assaulting Lily after she tries to reclaim her passport. Nethery then muses, in heavy-handed omniscient narration, on the Camus-like clarity violence has brought to his life. The two flee to the idyllic shores of the Mediterranean with a duffel bag of serendipitously found cocaine, pursued by Claude's powerful friends as well as the French government, who think that Claude's murderer and the leader of the People's Mafia are one and the same. Hansen is dealing with interesting themes, yet his prose is clumsy and the initially exciting plot fizzles out in a dense but flaccid conclusion; the novel coming out, just as Nethery's first come on to Lily, like so many "half-baked cookies." (Jan.)
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