Cry Father by Benjamin Whitmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Patterson Wells is a tree clearer who has never gotten over the death of his son and writes letters to him and lives a life of self destruction. He meets Junior Bascom, a drug runner traveling down a similar path. Will they be one another's salvation or ticket to the grave?
I got this from Netgalley. It took the publisher almost five months to approve my request and the ARC is full of spaces inside words and weird characters at the beginning of some sentences, making some paragraphs hard to read. It was still worth it.
I loved Ben Whitmer's Pike a couple years ago and was foaming at the mouth for his next novel. Cry Father did not disappoint.
Cry Father is a tale of fathers and sons. It's also a tale of brutal violence and drug and alcohol abuse. It reminded me of James Crumley's The Last Good Kiss, only without the mystery element, unless you consider wondering if Patterson and/or Junior are going to OD in it.
There are two threads in this book that periodically intersect. Patterson works as much as he can and drinks and drugs away the time he has left, trying to forget his dead son, all the while trying to avoid his ex-wife, who wants Patterson to take part in a malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who treated her son. Junior runs drugs all over the southwest and has some a young daughter living with his girlfriend. He also hates his father with a cold passion and blames him for all the problems of the world.
There's more drunken misadventures in this book than there is action but the action is brutal when it happens. If I learned one thing from this book, it's don't turn your back on a tweaker. Patterson went through so much alcohol and cocaine in this book that I felt a little nauseous and hungover while reading it. As Patterson's substance abuse gets worse and he hangs out with Junior more, things gradually come completely unglued.
Whitmer's writing is masterful. The letters Patterson writes to his dead son are touching and make the harsh, unblinking depictions of violence and drug abuse that much more powerful. The quality of the writing, coupled with the trainwreck appeal of Patterson and Junior had me reading long into the night to finish it.
That's about all I want to say. Unless you only read shitty books, Cry Father should not be missed. Five out of five stars.
Kids, don't do drugs!
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