Thursday, April 15, 2010

Shattered, by Richard Neely

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1991 (reissue)

originally published as 
The Plastic Nightmare

Shattered is a work of noir fiction that begins when Dan Marriott awakes in a hospital. His wife, Judith, is by his side, and he learns that he and Judith had been in a catastrophic car accident.  Judith was thrown clear, but Dan wasn't so lucky. Most of the bones in his body were broken, his face was totally disfigured, and worse yet, he has no memory of who he is. After a series of plastic surgeries, he is ready to leave the hospital and to try to piece together his life. Judith takes him home and begins filling him in on their past life together, but little things Dan finds and remarks people make cause him to realize that something is just not right -- and after a few very strange occurrences, he finds it even more imperative to get to the truth. To say more would wreck the story.

Let's just say that this isn't the best piece of noir I've ever read, nor is it the worst. The plot is a good one, and I never guessed the ending (definitely a nice twist) but everything seems to happen so quickly. There's not a lot of time to really get into the characters, and while the story keeps you reading, it would have been better if it had been a bit more in depth.  However, I liked it well enough to pick up another book by this author -- The Walter Syndrome, highly recommended by several Neely fans.

I'd recommend it to readers of noir fiction.

sidebar: the movie based on this book is on IFC Friday night (4/16) 8:45 pm.  From all accounts it's not so hot, but I plan on watching it anyway.

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