My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Confession: I do not normally read thrillers. I like watching them well enough, but I’ve never read John Grisham, nor am I likely to. So why did I pick up Damaged?Damaged is a thriller set in Halifax, my home town, and I will admit that was the draw. A big time trade paperback set in any Canadian city is intriguing enough, but one that isn’t set in one of Canada’s big 3 cities? And Halifax? Unheard of.
So that’s what got the book into my lap. What kept it there (until long after I should have gone to bed) was a great story, amazing characters and simply great writing. There was a couple of lines I read over and over just because I couldn’t help but think how great they were. I don’t do that very often.
It’s a thriller, so I’m not giving away the story, so I’ll focus on the characters that are the centrepiece of this story. Yes, it has a great plot with enough twists to keep the reader turning pages, but I think that Callow’s real talent is her characters – from her heroine, lawyer Kate Lange, to a lowly drug pusher on the fringes of society. Each of them are complex human beings, damaged by life and trying to make sense of who they are and where they fit in each other’s lives. Like a moody Halifax morning, shades of grey are everywhere, making this novel even richer than I had expected it to be.
And to my delight, Halifax was a great setting for this book – which is probably an ironic statement, given how it certainly doesn’t show the best of the city. But it makes it a real place, which was another thing I appreciated. Callow got the flavor of the city right. As far as North American cities go, Halifax is an old city, and not a terribly big one. A name means something in Halifax. Memories are long. It is glorious in the sun, and dank in the rain. Callow captured both aspects of it perfectly.
So now I am impatiently awaiting Callow’s next novel, which is a surefire sign that I am hooked on a novelist. If you aren’t typically a thriller reader, or you’re looking for a brand new setting, give “Damaged” a try. You won’t be disappointed…except when you get to the last page and there isn’t any more to read.