Kill Switch

Chris Lynch. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-41692-702-0
Lynch (Angry Young Man) mixes tragedy, psychological drama, and action to tell a story about testing the bounds of family loyalty. Daniel loves Da, his grandfather, and is heartbroken over Da's increasing memory loss and dementia. He's also surprised when Da—who has supposedly never left the country—mentions having visited Cardiff and Tel Aviv. Daniel assumes it's a symptom of dementia at first, but soon becomes convinced that Da was not only involved in covert operations, but also that Da's former employers might be trying to silence him. Soliciting the help of a stoner cousin, Daniel hides Da on a college campus, where Da reveals more of his violent past and Daniel begins to feel the unsettling impact of Da's volatility. Lynch's taut writing is often witty (Da "just forgot to forget" some of his secrets) and develops the central characters through sharp dialogue and focused interactions. The narrative's meandering style and emphasis on emotional undercurrents over plot may perplex readers expecting a spy thriller, but in exchange, Lynch creates a suspenseful exploration of human relationships and the capacity to commit acts of brutality. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/30/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
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