Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Honest Faces

Author: Steven Donkin
ISBN: 9781608300358
Publisher: Aberdeen Bay

"I have known a vast quantity of nonsense talked about bad men not looking you in the face. Don't trust that conventional idea. Dishonesty will stare honesty out of countenance any day in the week, if there is anything to be got by it."---Charles Dickens

"Honest Faces" is written through several different person's point of view so the reader needs to pay attention to character changes. It is not a quick reading book, it takes time to read between the lines, which gives the story its suspense and mystery.

The book is about, in part, of the reunion of two brother after 47 years of being estranged. The younger brother, Jonathan Allerton, is a 65 year old retired college professor and is married to a woman named Ruth in New Jersey. The older brother, Frank Allerton, is a 75 year old bachelor who once ran the family hardware store. They were both raised by their widowed father until he died from a heart attack that Frank was too drunk to call for help for. Jonathon decides to hold his fathers death against his brother and move out of state and not stay in touch with Frank. The visit of Jonathan to his home town awakes old ghosts and haunts. He sees that his family home has been burned and the family business abandoned.

Other important characters are introduced during an alcohol inducted discussion of current events at the home of Conrad Hagwood (the Colonel) which is Frank's neighbor. The Colonel is an US Army veteran and since being shot in a hunting accident has been wheel chair bound. He is a saucy, opinionated old man who is raising his middle-aged daughter Ruth, who is considered mentally impaired. Also in attendance is Malcolm Louis Peters a widowed African American retired school teacher who moved to Ohio from Washington D.C. and years earlier was a member of the Black Panthers. He tried all his teaching career to make a difference to his students however he does not feel he has. He then takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of his friend Frank's death to once again try to make a difference.

The topics of the discussion included the war in Iraq, Obama's election and terrorist which showed to me that it is set in modern day times. My favorite part of the friendly debate was the Colonel's retell of what he learn from someone during the Vietnam war. It is an interesting reasoning behind the phrase of how violence only begets violence. He explains the if you kill someone, you are not just taking that person's life. That person had family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, anyone that person had a relationship with, you would have effected them all. Revenge doesn't work unless you kill everyone involved.

The characters of Cora the waitress and Gretchen her nice she adopted, I felt were not very necessary to story other than how they are really related and the poem that Gretchen wrote.

As I read Honest Faces, I was surprised of the plot twist after the suspicious death of Frank, and the disappearance of Jonathon. Frank's will is in question especially when it was changed just before his death.
Along with the obvious mystery of the plot line, the book also contains explanations and opinions about certain forms of government and the state of our education system. Could not stop thinking that these maybe the author's way to express his thoughts in an indirect way.
I recommend "Honest Faces" to all adult readers with a word of caution that some of the writing maybe complex in nature but it doesn't take away from the story the author is trying to tell.