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BLOWN AWAY by Shane Gericke


By Theresa de Valence - Posted on 27 February 2007

BLOWN AWAY is a gripping read. At 5 pm one lazy afternoon, I picked up BLOWN AWAY. After page 35, the pages came out in clumps, like hair falling out, until late in the book when the pages mysteriously stayed put in their binding. I put the book down at 1:40 am, completed. So, step 1: schedule when you intend to read this book, you will not want to put it down.

BLOWN AWAY is a story about a young woman who decides to change her life and become a cop. She has skills, but more than anything else, she has a stubborn refusal to be beaten by the random vagaries of fortune. It’s that stubbornness that gets her into trouble; she’s not really cut out to be a cop, too flip for all that paramilitary stuff. Then her past comes back to haunt her in a terrible way, and she will need all those cops she’s alienated as allies.

The characters are well drawn and believable. Gericke weaves the historical next to the current day with a nice flow. The backstory starts lazily, back at the birth of our protagonist who is discovered to have a sweet and loving relationship with her parents. A mysterious character whom we do not know how to place in the modern day gains weight in the background. From early on, we have vague suspicions; they are reinforced with increasing menace.

As the story progresses, the tension mounts. The past and the present converge in a present so horrible that one can barely fathom it. Over and over what we thought we knew about the characters’ history is not quite as bad as it truly gets. It is eye-opening.

There is more violence than I am used to in this story. It’s way more “in your face.” The sex and violence and gore kept me thinking about scenes from BLOWN AWAY for many days after I had finished the book.

By most people’s reckoning, including mine, that makes BLOWN AWAY an immensely successful novel.