High Desert High

Steven Schindler. The Elevated Press, $16 trade paper (303p) ISBN 978-0-9662408-0-1
In this sharp novel, Schindler does a fine job creating the believably gritty life and mind of a New York City cop, but the story stumbles as it moves into supernatural and religious realms. Paul Santo, a lieutenant detective who worked undercover in narcotics, walks off the job when he’s had enough of antipolice protesters (or antipolice attitudes) and retires. He’d had a distant relationship with his daughter, Tracy, now a young adult who is moving to southern California, and he decides to join her on the trip. Paul finds the desert to be entrancing, “Just a slowly disappearing racket of humans and machines,” and he settles in Joshua Tree, Calif. Soon enough, his drinking becomes problematic, and strange events (such as what he thinks could be a UFO sighting) shake him—Paul can’t tell if he’s having religious experiences, alien visitations, or a nervous breakdown. He tries to build a relationship with Tracy, and also pursue his new neighbor Kate, but instead, he withdraws into the bottle. The only way he can find answers is to challenge himself, live as a better man, and believe what he feels. Though marred by a few implausible turns, this is a provocative physical and emotional trip. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Genre: Fiction
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