The Family Hightower

Brian Francis Slattery. Seven Stories, $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-60980-563-0
Slattery's (Lost Everything) fourth novel has a dynamic premise that unfortunately descends into a frustrating jumble. Two cousins are given the same name: Peter Henry Hightower, named after their grandfather, a Ukranian-American crime boss. They grow up differently (one becomes a journalist, the other a criminal), but their fates are entwined by a mistaken phone call setting killers on the trail of one, thinking it is the other. The bulk of the book is set in 1995, although sections go back as far as 1896, and move past 1995 to an unnamed contemporary date. The canvas of the book ranges from Cleveland to Kiev to Granada to Africa and many places in between. Delving deeply into the horrors of the Eastern European black market organ trade, Slattery should be commended for not watering his story down or giving us false heroes, and his research and sensory detail are excellent. Unfortunately, the choice of present tense and the unnamed narrator talking at the reader throughout keep a buffer zone between the reader and the experience of the book. A rather wry, somewhat condescending tone prevent what could have been a strong emotional impact and thought-provoking aftermath. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/13/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
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