by Lawrence Block
Cover Artist: Ken Laager
Review by Mel Jacob
Subterranean Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596067950
Date: 31 December 2016 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
This novella traces the departure of a drifter from Galbraith via a Trailways bus to his arrival in another small town, Cross Creek. Thus begins the saga of a man who never stays long in one place and who is filled with demons from his past. However, he carries the past with him and sooner or later it will destroy him.
A short order cook, he soon gets a job and begins to make a place for himself. A good employee, he becomes a rock for the owner. Gradually he makes a few friends, but never reveals much about himself. He drinks, but not to excess and mostly alone.
Eventually he makes friends with the local librarian and friendship soon leads to a relationship. For once, the idea of marriage appeals to him. He obtains a drivers license, claiming to have lost his old one. However, that is not the complete truth.
He also searches the internet for some old news about Galbraith and begins to worry. After episodes of binge drinking in his past, he suffered blackouts and canít remember what happened. Then he has another one and wakes covered in blood. He attributes it to a nose bleed resulting from a fight. Now he faces a critical decision. Will his life be ruled by the past and is he condemned to never rest like the legend of the Wandering Jew?
Block builds the portrait of Bill Thompson, piece by piece, with no bravado or fireworks. He lets the man speak for himself via his actions and interactions. No big drama, just a fact here, one there. His friends care about them and at first he cares about them too. However, he doesnít deal well with close relationships because of his past which Block reveals in bits. The ending is inevitable.
This is one of Subterranean Press's commemorative releases by well known authors.