cover image Eve's Men

Eve's Men

Newton Thornburg / Author Forge $22.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-8

It's hard to sympathize with characters who ignore the obvious, and what's obvious in this failed noir from Thornburg (Cutter and Bone) is that Eve Sherman's boyfriend, Brian Poole, is nothing but trouble. Brian used to date country-music star Kim Sanders, who died of a drug overdose; now, Hollywood is making a movie about Kim, and Brian is obsessed with stopping the production. As the book opens, he bulldozes down the set of the Colorado town where Kim's death took place. (In a nice touch, the real town, a few miles away, was not deemed filmic enough.) Brian's brother Charley flies out from Chicago to post his bail, and, in typical noir fashion, he finds himself growing more and more implicated in his brother's criminal attacks on the film--and more attracted to Eve. Thornburg's objective is a gripping escalation of moral dilemmas; what he succeeds at, however, is in provoking a reader's escalating frustration at Charley and Eve, both of whom get burned by Brian time after time and dutifully keep coming back to get burned by him again, ostensibly because of the ties of blood and romance. The problem is that neither love nor family loyalty can justify Eve's and Charley's misplaced faith in Brian. When a writer uses lines like: ""Eve could not believe she was standing still for such treatment, accepting it almost as her due,"" it's a dead giveaway that he knows his characters' actions are unbelievable. And that's what makes this thriller as much of a loser as Eve's troublesome man. (Apr.)