The Posthumous Man by Jake Hinkson (2013, Beat to a Pulp; 190 pages)
Right from the jump, you know that Jake Hinkson, author of The Posthumous Man, knows his noir. Even if you were unaware that he’s the author of The Blind Alley, one of the best and most readable works out there on the subject, you know he’s steeped in the shadowy world of noir just from reading the back cover blurb:
“When Elliot Stilling killed himself, he thought his troubles were over. Then the ER doctors revived him. It’s infatuation at first sight when he meets his nurse, Felicia Vogan, a lost soul with a ‘weakness for sad sacks and losers.’ She helps Elliot escape from the hospital, but once outside she leads him straight to a gang planning a million dollar heist. Does Felicia really want Elliot to protect her from the outfit’s psychotic leader, Stan the Man? Or is she just setting him up to take the hard fall?”
It doesn’t get much more noir than that. Until you start reading, and Hinkson grabs you by your lapels and hauls you even further down the hard, dark alleys of a story that just keeps punching, keeps getting darker, and tougher, and more surprising with every plot twist.
Hinkson’s protagonist, Elliot Stilling, is a sad sap, a guy who’s carrying around a 500-pound boulder on his back from his mysterious past. Whatever it is, it’s something so dark and terrible that it caused him to commit suicide. Hinkson deftly hides that dark something in Elliot’s past from the reader through Elliot’s own refusal to face it, or even talk about it. He gives us glimpses of a flashback, repeated a few times over the course of this short (173 pages) novel, but not enough to reveal what it is that haunts Elliot so, until the end. And when it hits, it hits you like a roundhouse in the gut that leaves you doubled over and gasping for breath.
This is great storytelling, great writing. Great noir.
Find this title in our catalog: The Posthumous Man
Recommended by: Greg