Monday, February 12, 2018

Book Review: 'Deep Blue' by David Niall Wilson

North Carolina author David Niall Wilson, originally from Illinois, spent time in the US Navy as an Electronics Technician "A" school, ‘learned guitar, got engaged, unengaged, taught Bible School , got excommunicated, and moved on to San Diego, California once again as part of the crew of the USS Paul F. Foster, lived in Rota , Spain for three years, and retired in Norfolk , Virginia and is now the IT Manager and Facility Security Officer for a company in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.’ He has published copious novels and short stories and is the recipient of awards (The Bram Stoker Award for poetry), is President of the Horror Writer's Association, is an active member of both SFWA and the International Thriller Writer's Association as well as CEO of Crossroad Press.

Impressive credentials for a writer who has specialized in horror stories – of course, that genre is one of the most popular escapisms for the irreparably chaotic world we all inhabit at present. Being new to David’s writing it is refreshing to see why he shares his biographical data so freely. He is a guitarist (as is his main character) and he is a poet, a trait that spills over most pages of this lyrical tale of the world gone wrong for most of his characters until music and poetry change their lives.

The offered synopsis is an excellent overview of the crowded stage of this performance: ‘Brandt is a down-and-out guitarist and vocalist who believes his life has hit rock bottom. He can't make the rent on his apartment, he drinks so much he can barely make it to the crappy gig that keeps his band afloat, let alone play when he gets there. When he leaves the bar one dark night with a bottle of Jose Cuervo in one hand and his guitar case in the other, he finds he’s locked out of his apartment with no where to go. In an alley filled with trash can fires and homeless vagrants, Brandt meets Wally, an old black man who can play the music that Brandt dreams of – the blues. In the ensuing encounter, Brandt is gifted – or cursed – with new abilities. He feels the pain building up around him and inside him. Not his own pain, but the pain of others, the pain of those who have passed away, the pain of those who died with no one to hear their stories. He becomes a conduit for the pain of the world. What follows are a series of revelations, one for each member of the band, and one for a young girl named Liz, drawing them together, and ultimately reuniting them with Brandt. Together, Brandt, Sinthia, Shaver, Dexter and Liz take off to the mountain town of Friendly California for a date with pain, destiny, and a silver haired Reverend who would like to see them dead. In the final showdown, they must meet the challenge of the music, the pain, and their mingled histories and stand, or fall, with the pain of the world in the balance.’

David’s language is crude where it should be that way and eloquently lyrical when that mood arises. But throughout this surprising fine novel the reader cannot help but be impressed with the polish and the finely tuned plot, the drama of humanity emerging, and the magical way we are drawn into the lives and spirits of an unforgettable cast. Strong work! Grady Harp, April 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.