Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Staff Pick - Caught by Lisa Moore

I have been suggesting Caught by Lisa Moore to anyone who is willing to listen. It has so much about it that would appeal to so many readers - a fast-paced plot, suspense and tension, an entirely likable protagonist, high seas adventure and romance wrapped up in a very satisfying work of literary fiction.

David Slaney has escaped from his Nova Scotia prison and his hitchhiking his way across the country to meet up with his friend to commit, once again, the crime for which he had been imprisoned. In the mid-1970s Slaney and his friend Hearn attempted to smuggle a large quantity of marijuana into Newfoundland. The fishermen of Capelin Cove turned them in and Slaney bore the punishment of this crime while Hearn escaped prosecution and took on a new identity and a new life. Four years later, they still owe a large amount of money to some dangerous people and attempt one last try at their failed endeavor.

Caught is about so many things - freedom and the illusion of freedom; it is a quest, a literary adventure which brings to mind Hemingway and Conrad. I found David Slaney to be a particularly engaging character and I was compelled to read quickly even though Moore boldly hinted at the outcome in her title choice. Following Slaney's escape from prison he meets up with a series of characters who each have their own impact on his adventure. In an interview on CBC Moore talks about a real life pot smuggling incident in Newfoundland in the 1970s in which the criminals take on a folkloric quality. Storytellers in Newfoundland did not judge or condemn them, rather they were regarded as "audacious". So with Slaney. His encounters with strangers were brief, but they were poignant. Really, Slaney is not a very good criminal and everyone saw through him pretty quickly. Slaney himself was an adept observer of the people around him, but lacked an introspective quality that might have altered some of the decisions he ultimately made.

I think this is the best book I've read so far this year.

Slaney's adventures take him to Colombia where his immersion in a hot dangerous climate seemed to infuse him with a enhanced sense of bravery. In The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez "No sooner does he get to know Ricardo Laverde in a seedy billiard hall in Bogota than Antonio Yammara realises that the ex-pilot has a secret. Antonio's fascination with his new friend's life grows until the day Ricardo receives a mysterious, unmarked cassette. Shortly afterwards, he is shot dead on a street corner. Yammara's investigation into what happened leads back to the early 1960s, marijuana smuggling and a time before the cocaine trade trapped Colombia in a living nightmare." publisher

Suspenseful literary fiction with a focus on drug trafficking.

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