Monday, July 16, 2012

The Crossroads

One of many impressive things about this standalone thriller by JDM is how the entire novel is centered around one simple heist, that is neither twisty nor complicated. But from that one idea MacDonald builds a complex, populated novel with a unique setting.

The unique setting is where the novel gets it's title. The Crossroads is a built-up highway stop somewhere down in the South. It's got gas stations, motels, restaurants, bars, gift shops, and it's all owned by one man, an Eastern European immigrant, and his four grown children.

It's excellent, despite some of MacDonald's typical flaws. His "good" female characters tend to all be alike, as do his "bad" female characters. But it's minor. The best part of the book is the way he delves into his location, creating a richness out of a banal rest-stop. At times, the omniscient narrator floats around and observes the comings and goings of the travelers. There is a brief description early on of a young unmarried female doctor with an incurable disease who is driving down to Florida for a few days on her childhood beach before committing suicide. It's a throwaway scene (she never returns) but in just those few paragraphs MacDonald creates a life.

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