Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver
|Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver|
|Reviewer: Lesley Mason|
|Summary: A quirky telling of a very dark and murderous tale. Carver's sideswipes at modern society are anything but subtle.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: August 2020|
|Publisher: Orenda Books|
Hinton Hollow, population 5,120. It sounds like one of those signs you see on improbably wide highways in America's mid-west, but this particular Hinton Hollow is a small town in Berkshire, England. Detective Sergeant Pace grew up here, until something happened and he ran away to the city. He's running away again…only this time evil is following him and is going to touch just about everyone in town.
Mrs Wallace knew it was coming. She put little Henry on a train, with a label around his neck asking for him to be kept safe and told him not to say anything about who he was or where he was from for seven sleeps. It might be safe by then.
Over the course of five days darkness takes hold and people are somehow not themselves, acting out of character, in small ways and big ones, all of them uncertain as to why, except for one. There is one ordinary man walking around this town who knows why he is doing what he is doing, and he is killing people. Not just 'people' but children, and mothers… as if that should make it somehow worse.
That it somehow does make it worse, is part of Evil's case for the defence. Evil is our narrator in this decidedly quirky thriller. His story-telling style is decidedly conversational, but he is a little on the defensive. Perhaps you would be too if you had his job. His job is to keep the balance, between good and evil, but the maths are complex and Carver makes us wait until well into the tale of that week, before he starts helping us to understand what 'balance' means. Meanwhile, he is wandering around town finding the darkness in people and giving it a little push, or a little twist. For the most part they can then be relied on to do the rest on their own accord. All it takes is a prompt, for most people.
Fortunately for the world at large there are people that cannot be touched. That doesn't mean they can't be the victims, just that they're unlikely to be turned into perpetrators. The problem for Evil, the reason he has to work so hard, is that there seem to be fewer and fewer such folk around. Even in some idyllic rural towns.
As well as keeping the balance, it seems Evil has taken the telling of this small story to try an educate those of us willing to listen. The whole book is structured like a self-help manual. Chapters with pre-summaries of what we are going to learn, short sections with bold headings, call-out boxes on Things to know or Two things about… or One major problem with… or Something I have noticed. The slightly unsettling thing is that you may well find yourself agreeing with much of what Evil has to say. I know I did.
I used the word quirky and that may put some readers off. I do think this is going to be a book that you will love and or find too irritating in its tone. I'm in the former camp. I found myself rooting for Pace the whole way, despite what we learn about his own past, wanting him to find his gunman, and rooting for the town, wanting sanity to be restored and life to go back to 'normal', wanting the good people to have a happy ending. Evil might say that, right there, is part of the problem with humanity.
What happens in the town is brutal…and the risk the author has taken is that he may have lightened the tone too far for some. Evil might say that, right there, is another part of the problem with humanity, that we have reached a point where it is possible to describe these things and we can take them lightly. That, he might say, is why he has to work so hard.
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