Friday, September 2, 2011

Low Life

Ryan David Jahn

Low Life

Macmillan, 2010

Loner-accountant Simon Johnson goes to work even on weekends to kill time in his worthless life. In the evenings, he gets drunk to fall asleep faster and not think about nothing. The whole social life of Simon comes to communicating with two colleagues during the lunchbreak. On the road from work, Simon occasionally calls in video shop to watch a porno movie in the booth. Simon’s meaningless life is over one night, when someone breaks into his apartment and wants to kill Simon. Not getting lost in the darkness, Simon in self-defense kills the stranger, who looks exactly like Simon. Thinking that the police won’t understand the situation, would it be self defense or not (and Simon almost smashed the head of the attacker), Simon puts the body in a bath filled with ice. All that now remains for Simon to do is find out who the attacker is and why he wanted to kill Simon.

If the previous novel by Ryan David Jahn «Acts of Violence» was solid, but undistinguished thriller, this is quite outstanding one. Very entangled plot, rising till the end of the books suspence, pressing reality of the situation, the psychopath protagonist, the inexplicable cruelty - all this is enough to get a quality reading. But Jahn does not stop there. He tells the story not as an omnipotent author who knows what will happen to the hero on the next page, but as a counterpart of Simon, who knows no more about what is happening than the protagonist. Simon is not a great detective with excellent logic, not a man with connections. He can not untwist cleverly woven network of puzzles withing a few hours. He is a sociopath, a loner, a little man, who only with his own assertiveness can solve his problem.

Simple style is for a simple man, and the author achieves high level of paranoia in the first place because of his style. Simon thinks of simple sentences, speaks simple sentences, and acts simply but well.

The answer will be terrible, but Simon knew it from the moment when decided to leave the body of the stranger in his own bathroom.

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