Guy Hastings dropped out of law school and now works as a car salesman at Beau Holloway Chevrolet in Houston. He’s going nowhere but doesn’t really know what to do about that or even if he can be bothered trying. When his uncle Harry dies, Guy discovers that Willis Delaney, a trusted former client, had swindled his law firm to the tune of $200,000. Harry’s widow Imogen asks Guy to head down to Florida to find the man and the money. If he’s successful he gets to keep half. This is just what Guy needs to turn his life and his wife around (his long-suffering partner Whitney has called time on his aimless meandering and demanded a trial separation). If he can locate the money he can finally impress her. And at least in trying he might just put the spark back into his own life.
Matthew J. White’s A FERAL CHORUS is an infectiously amusing romp peopled with quirky characters in frequently farcical situations. White pitches things perfectly. Though often laugh-out-loud funny, the novel never slips into clowning, retaining an identifiably human heart in the midst of all the misfortunes and missteps–a precise balance of humor and pathos. As outlandish and entertaining as some of the situations Guy Hastings finds himself in, what really drives the novel is White’s ear for dialogue. The author has the ability to slide from the wisecracks to the wisdom that slowly dawns on the protagonist as the truth of his life and his future gradually reveals itself to him.
There is something of the “buddy movie” comedy in the way that the narrative unfolds, especially when Guy hooks up with Percy Templeton–a failed, but still hopeful, British winemaker who is attempting to drive to California. Though not a book that could exactly be classed as a thriller, A FERAL CHORUS has similarities to the character driven works of some of Elmore Leonard’s Florida books or Donald Westlake’s more mainstream novels. High praise for this debut novel and hopefully a sign of more to come from White.
Matthew J. White’s A FERAL CHORUS is a packed with hi-jinks and laugh-out-loud comedy. Though never shying away from the humor, debut author White finds moments to highlight the pathos of his lead character’s inner turmoil as he struggles to reignite his lust for life.
~Kent Lane for IndieReader