Boot Tracks

Matthew F. Jones, Author
Matthew F. Jones, Author Europa Editions $14.95 (206p) ISBN 978-1-933372-11-2
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This dark novel by Jones (Deepwater) follows a damaged, unstable jailbird named Charlie Rankin and a porn actress named Florence Jane on a violent road trip toward possible redemption. Fresh from a four-year prison sentence (for robbing a vending machine and breaking a security guard's jaw), Charlie begins a trek to carry out a murder for his jailhouse friend and mentor William ""the Buddha"" Pettigrew, meeting insecure, trusting Florence along the way. In the dark of suburbia, Charlie accidentally chooses the wrong house; haunted by memories of childhood abuse, Charlie kills the couple living there, believing they are his mom and her abusive boyfriend. Battered and bloodied, he takes refuge at Florence's apartment and is surprised by her unquestioning acceptance. As the two lost souls take to the road, cautiously exploring the blossoming love between them, Charlie must decide between completing his duty to the Buddha-and letting loose the violent urges within him-and the alien feelings he's developed for Florence. The love story between Charlie and Florence makes an interesting juxtaposition with the novel's ultra-violent streak, but Charlie's internal struggle grows repetitive, and the long, explicit passages devoted to murder and beatings weigh down the narrative, giving these promising characters little room to prove themselves worthy of readers' sympathy.
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