An author I really enjoy reading who seems to fly under the radar is Sam Millar. His latest offering that makes my best books of the year is not a part of the Karl Kane series (a must-read series), but a stand alone novel that floored me.
Black”s Creek by Sam Millar
The synopsis on the back of Millar’s book doesn’t even come close to doing this book justice. Nor do the comparisons afforded the book by other authors who compare it to other great books such as Stand by Me, Mystic River, and Sleepers. This book stands on its own and, in my opinion, stand above those great books.
On the surface, the book follows Tom, a young boy growing up in Black’s Creek and his friends as they deal with the aftermath brought on by the suicide of their peer. Their peer commits suicide in front of them and it is widely speculated in town that it was brought on after their peer had been molested by the town’s outcast. The boys share in the town’s emotional rollercoaster of emotions ranging from horror of the manner in which the death happens, to sorrow for what their peer went through to outrage that, while everyone knows the reason for his suicide, the law appears powerless to bring justice to the situation. Without giving away key plot points, the reader doesn’t just read about these emotions, but shares in them as Millar does a great job drawing the reader into the novel. At times I felt as if I was a member of Black Creek’s community and I felt the outrage as well.
While the law is powerless to bring about justice, we experience it through Tom’s eyes, as it is Tom’s father who is the sheriff and is in charge of finding justice for the young victim and, by extension, the entire town. A man of moral character, his inability to hold the outcast responsible for his actions and the consequences they render, leave him to question his legal decisions throughout the investigation and question himself as a man. Further complicating his guilt is his desire to protect his own son from this outcast, while also being confronted by the father of the victim and listening to this man blame him and hold him personally responsible for his son’s death. Knowing his son is alive and another man’s son is dead, possibly due to him and his actions, lead him spiraling into a depression that threatens to destroy him and his loved ones.
Although I was initially disappointed that Millar’s latest book wasn’t part of his Karl Kane series (one of the premier series currently being written), this book made up for that by showing how Millar’s writing just continues to get better and better. This book will not disappoint any reader of his Kane series and is sure to win him more fans. This is one heck of a quality read on many levels.