Monday, February 18, 2013
Anthony Neil Smith
Self-publushed e-book, 2011
(originally published by Bleak House Books in 2008)
Bad cop Billy Lafitte after Hurricane Katrina was fired, but the brother of Billy’s ex-wife, the sheriff of Yellow Medicine County, arranges to hire Billy as his Deputy. At the new place Lafitte keeps doing bad things: solving problems by force, taking cuts from the drug operations and generally enforcing the law with unlawful methods. But Billy's got a good heart. When a bassist of a psychobilly band Drew, which Lafitte is fond of, asks Billy to help her boyfriend to solve the problems with the two meth dealers, Lafitte happily agrees, suggesting that the problem will be a breeze.
Lafitte could not guess that a breeze will turn out two corpses with their heads cut off and all the members of psychobilly band killed.
Anthony Neil Smith, whose imagination never failed him, would not be himself if he didn’t added into the plot lots of madness: in Minnesota, a terrorist group of Malaysians operates who are disguised as drug traffickers. First reaction: What the hell? But such was the reaction of Lafitte, when he found out about the terrorists from the FBI agent Rome. Next, the situation for Billy is getting worse and worse, given the fact that he is being chased by not only Islamists, but federal agents, suspecting that Lafitte helps this terrorist cell.
Bad-ass Billy Lafitte is truly a unique creation. More unique is that Smith manages to build a novel around the obvious anti-hero, but with brains and a heart. Billy arranges crusade against terrorists, but he does it not save the country, but to save his own sking and skins of his loved ones.
More tragic is that in Yellow Medicine we see a man who is stumbling once (more so if twice), and no one else will give you a hand and will not believe him.
In the novel, there is a second anti-hero, an FBI agent Rome. He incarnates here a soulless government machine that does not care about a single individual, but only about the entire nation. It is not clear which is worse, the terrorists who want to destroy your country, or your very own state.
Yellow Medicine is strikingly similar to Faculty of unnecessary things by Soviet writer Yuri Dombrowski, though they are made of different dough, and Dombrowski and Smith could not read each other. But both of them tell a story about a man who is in such trouble, of which seems to be no way out, and the only thing left is to be honest with himself and to act according to your conscience.
This is Smith's third novel, and it is bigger than the two previous ones, although the book doesn’t turn into a thriller (for the better). And yes, Smith is a master how to begin books (and and end them too).