cover image The Tipping Point of Oliver Bass

The Tipping Point of Oliver Bass

Larry Spencer. Chalk Hill, $12.95 trade paper (212p) ISBN 978-0-692-85986-5

Spencer’s heartfelt noir opens with a moving description of the suicide of the narrator’s mother. When Oliver Bass was five years old, Annie Bass, a depressed alcoholic, jumped off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Her body was never recovered, and, unsurprisingly, 12 years later, her death still haunts her son. Oliver blames his father, Jeffrey, for the tragedy, which makes living with his father and Lorraine, Jeffrey’s third or fourth wife (Oliver has trouble keeping track), an ordeal. Despite the teenager’s brilliance, he was expelled from school after calling his teachers “fascist right-wing hypocrites.” His situation worsens after his father and Lorraine send him to Venice, Calif., to live for the summer with Vance Briggs, an investigative reporter and a former patient of his therapist stepmother. Vance stuns his guest by revealing that he intends for Oliver to help him solve the murder of his wife, Kate, despite the official verdict that Kate’s death was a suicide. Spencer keeps the twists coming in the service of the relentlessly downbeat plot. (BookLife)