Friday, August 17, 2012
A Single Shot
Matthew F. Jones
A Single Shot
Mulholland Books UK, 2011
Hunter John Moon goes out of his trailer in the morning to hunt. He illegally kills deers, each time risking getting caught. John’s father has lost the farm at the time because of the banking collapse, and John has enough problems of his own. He does not stay long at any work, his wife left him, taking with her their son. Since money is always tight, and free meat is good.
John shoots a deer from a distance, and then long pursues a wounded animal. When he hears the bushes rustle, he shoots. The deer appears from the other side, Moon shoots it, too. Going to the bushes, where he first heard a rustle, John finds the body of a young girl he accidentally killed. Exploring the place of illegally camp, he also finds a bag of money and a lot of drugs. After searching the body, John reads the note written by the killed girl, in which she writes about her boyfriend, with whom she head over heels in love. John hides the body in a cave, takes the money and the carcass of a deer and drags all of it to the trailer. Moon wants to use the money to bring back his wife and a child. Later, John realizes that the money belongs to a couple of farmers, whose house a few years ago was robbed, and they were both brutally murdered. Conscience and the people who owned the bag with money begin to pursue John Moon.
«A Single Shot» is what is now called the rural noir. The novel story is indeed close to noir, first of all because it is about good people doing bad things. John Moon is an honest, but a broken hero. He is «a good-looking guy ..., gentle and with a good sense of humor». Life was not fair to him, but he has no inner core, to resist to the end and did not succumb to temptations. He takes the stolen money (stealing already stolen), but for the benefit of the family. He kills the girl, but it was an accident. Moon is visited by the idea to go to the police and confess, to explain the situation, but here healso lacks confidence. He has several prior convictions, and who would believe him? Who would believe a poacher, an unemployed, who took the stolen money? John is not the only one in the novel, who came under the influence of money or a bad company.
«A Single Shot» is a greater story, where all are the details. And Matthew F. Jones catches in his style the importance of detailes. But what distinguishes this book and makes it extraordinary, it's attitude towards death. Deprivation of human life is not just another everyday event, it can break a man (which is why this novel was compared to "Crime and Punishment"). Murder deprives sleep, exhausts, causes burning with fever. Conscience like a tumor eats away the brain, the heart is accelerated, then almost stops, and lungs are filled with molten lead. The dead girl even after death will not leave John alone, not only her soul but the body will haunt the accident killer. And the payback is not such that you will expect.
"A Single Shot" hits the bull's-eye.