David Six has written a novel, In the Time it Takes to Blink, which will delight readers who focus on the clever use of language to tell an engrossing tale. No pun intended with the use of a word that contains “gross.” There are elements that could be considered gross and NSFW. This abbreviation (not safe for work) is not because of explicit sexual comment, although there is some of that. I use this abbreviation because of the graphic violence, some of which may involve sex. Someone at work peering over your shoulder and noticing the violent content you are reading might wonder about your daily interests. This novel is far out there but I describe it this way not as a criticism but as a way of warning readers this might be a rough ride. After reading this, you will look at confetti in new ways.
Then there is the humor. It is great and the contrast it offers to violent encounters is presented very artistically. If we accept common wisdom from comedians, “Timing is everything,” David Six has gotten this just right. It is quirky and appears at just the right point to attenuate the horror described in the commission of crimes by a serial psychopath. I will note a couple of examples to illustrate what I consider funny but my examples only look at the surface humor. To fully appreciate why these examples are humorous they must be read in context.
Ex 1 Ex-detective and enthusiastic alcoholic Bruno is in a car that has front-end alignment problems. He notes “the front end tended to wander like a drunk after a hot night playing tonsil-hockey with Jack Daniels—” (p.46).
Ex 2 When preparing to answer the door to greet an unwelcome former cop partner, Lt. Sally Salvanian, Bruno thinks “He could tell that, whoever it was, they were not going to stop unless he shot them. Or answered the door. He opted for the second as being less messy.” (p.93).
A lot of the humor arises from interactions between Bruno, the ex-cop and unwilling helper to active duty cop Sally, and all other characters while Bruno is in various stages of drunkenness. He is either getting drunk or recovering from being drunk. Dialogues between Bruno and Sally occur on several levels and for the most part, are extremely witty. My last example:
Ex 3 Bruno has another visitor and needs to answer the door. This time he will meet Emily, whose daughter was one of the serial killer’s victims. “He tried to get out of his chair, but someone had tied lead weights to him while he’d dozed, the bastards. He managed to slide forward, angle sideways to the right, fall to his knees on the floor, turn sideways to the right again, put his hands on the arms of his lounger, and push himself up to his feet, more or less. He headed for the door, ended up against the wall when it jumped in front of him, the bastard. Take-two got him there, as he used his left hand on the wall like he was in a cave maze.” (p. 131).
Once again, the horror in this novel is shocking. David Six inserts humor as in the above examples in just the right places to redirect reader attention away from the horrors described. There are serial murders done with an artistic bent, pedophilia, incest, domestic abuse, the ravages of alcoholism, suicidal tendencies on the part of several characters, and very strange romantic and/or sexual relationships. This is a very well-done production by the writer; it must have been a huge challenge for any editor.
Character sketches are fun to watch as David Six provides very complex multi-layered descriptions of main characters. Alan Rory, a professor, is a very sick individual but didn’t arrive in the world with such OCD complexity. Six presents a boy molded into a very sick (man?) over a period of approximately 50 years. With a brutal, unloving cult leader father and a very devoted mother, Rory’s final evolution follows a very twisted logic. Bruno’s rather flawed present is a result of great tragedy (caused by Rory). Bruno knows he is flawed, he knows how to heal himself, but he just isn’t interested in doing so. It is just too much effort. Part-time, almost 21-year-old Bruno junior colleague Jaje is a foil providing comic relief and absurd situations for Bruno to ponder.
This is a lot of fun and will be hard to put down. Reserve a block of time, maybe 5 hours, to enjoy the entirety of this novel in one reading session. This is a five Amazon star read I highly recommend.