By Susan Taylor
Down Solo, Earl Javorsky’s debut novel is a rollercoaster that starts at the top of a giant hill, with no gradual ascent to prepare for the exhilaration of the fall.
Charlie Miner is a private investigator-turned-junkie who is in the middle of a case involving a briefcase, the possibility of gold, kidnapping, arson, lots of gunplay, dynamite, a gorgeous woman, tweakers, marital unfaithfulness, a “Christian” with a scheme, and fraud, to name a few..
And Charlie is dead. As in, dead with a bullet in his brain. The story opens with him “waking up” in the morgue, somehow able to reanimate his dead body. Not only that, but his spirit can leave his body to roam around in places where his corporeal being can’t go. This comes in handy in multiple settings.
It’s zero to sixty from the get-go and the action is non-stop. Charlie’s reanimated body still desires his beloved heroin, but isn’t able to feel any effects from the hit he gets soon after tracking down his former dealer. Being dead among the living presents him with several challenges and often renders him unresponsive as he disappears into the memories of events that happened just prior to his death.
By the time Charlie has scrounged up some clothing for his dead, naked body and left the morgue, his affinity for similes is apparent.
“… like a bee in a bottle.”
“light as a whisper, fast as a thought”
“like wearing a gorilla suit”
“like a bag of snakes”
I was a little surprised at the relatively high number of people who were killed in the book, and more so by the fact that Charlie did much of the killing, but one of the conditions of being reanimated was to be sure not to kill anyone innocent, which did stay his hand at least one time. Charlie did not hesitate to put a bullet into someone, though, if he saw the need.
I realized that there were quite a few happenings in the story that were a little too convenient, but sometimes you just have to let art flow over you without getting too hung up about the suspension of disbelief. After all, the story starts out with a hugely improbable event, so the expectation is set early on that the reader agrees to get into some murky territory.
By the time Charlie gets to Mexico to track down the crazy that had kidnapped his daughter, Javorsky’s love of lists and detail was starting to get slightly cumbersome. Just about the time I was starting to think the detail was going to overwhelm me, I realized that there was an entire deeper meaning to his story. Charlie has a second chance; an opportunity to come back from death, and attend to his unfinished business. As a matter of fact, he is able to heal himself from being dead, and actually come back to life. I think Javorsky is explaining his philosophy on drug addiction here. Only the addict can heal himself and bring himself back to life. “…healing is my birthright, that the healed state is my natural inheritance, that atonement is the only prerequisite to claiming it.”
The book works on both levels. As a thrilling page-turner,, Down Solo is an enjoyable book, hard to put down, easy to escape into. With the deeper meaning, Javorsky has offered a thoughtful assessment of the timely subject of overcoming addiction. The font and margins are pleasing to the eye, and the book is well-edited. All in all, Javorsky’s novel is a solid entry into the world of suspense with a side of supernatural.