Sunday, June 21

Safer - Sean Doolittle

Academic Paul Calloway was a little concerned about moving from the security of Boston to a quiet mid-western town, but it's a career opportunity his wife can't pass by. The night they moved in their house, in a quiet suburban cul-de-sac, was broken into and Paul was injured fending off the intruder. While horrifying, the incident had an up side, as Paul and Sara met their neighbours and Paul joined the local neighbourhood patrol, run by former cop Roger Mallory, who lives directly opposite the Calloways. He strikes up friendships, plays golf with a group of mean from the neighbourhood, and settles into tranquility.
When, in the middle of a faculty party he and Sara are throwing, Paul's arrested by the Clarke Falls Police Department, he's understandably shocked. When he learns the charges he's stunned - producing and promoting pornographic images of a child, specifically the thirteen year old daughter of his neighbour. He knows he's innocent, but the evidence against him is strong, and as the truth emerges nobody will escape unscathed.
Safer opens with the arrest, and the rest of the novel alternates between events following and events leading up to the arrest. Narrated in first person, the novel hinges on Paul - his character and his relatability. The nightmare situation he finds himself in is breathtaking, and while the conspiracy ends up being a little far-fetched, the way events unfurl is so breathtaking and suspenseful I only recognised this on later reflection.
If you like a whirlwind pace, shuffled chronology (a technique that's integral to the plot), unexpected twists, suburban terror and intrigue, Safer is for you. Doolittle's written several other novels that I'll be encouraging my library to purchase. Watch this spot. - Alex

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