“Lamentation” is a snow covered mountain overlooking the Northern New Hampshire town of Ashton. What could be prettier? But Ashton has some serious flaws. Just like royal icing hiding cracks in a cake, the snow hides those flaws – until a murder precipitates events that make them all too obvious.
When I chose the novel I assumed that the protagonist was ‘lamenting’ something and was surprised when I realized that I was only partly correct. Prosperity in Ashton ended before our protagonist, Jay Porter, was born. A town past its heyday, struggling to survive like many small towns everywhere.
Jay’s childhood was cut short with the death of his parents in a car accident when he was eight. He and his brother Charlie have struggled ever since. Charlie is older than Jay, but Jay seems to be the more responsible sibling due to the fact that Charlie battles with drug addiction. Jay, on the other hand, is somewhat gainfully employed with an estate clearing business. Hard manual work which seems menial for Jay – a bright, thirty year-old man who has never realized his potential.
Jay’s relationship has ended painfully. His girlfriend left one day with their two year old son when she could no longer endure the demands that Charlie made on Jay’s life and the way that Jay always sells himself short. Jay is devastated by her leaving. He still adores Jenny and their son and his divided loyalties torture his daily life. Now he lives alone with a cat that he has never bothered to name, believing that by not naming him he won’t become too attached.
When Charlie is involved in a murder investigation, Jay once again comes to his aid. Only this time he has become involved in something that could affect all of their lives.
“Lamentation” is a fast-paced thriller with themes of lies, avarice and corruption set in a small town where one influential family will do anything to maintain their power. A family who consider anyone who impedes their goals to be expendable. An enjoyable read that could have benefited from a wee bit more editing (eg. “if shudders weren’t dangling by their hinges”). Obviously this should have read ‘shutters’ – and perhaps this was caught in the final printing.
I commend the author, Joe Clifford, for turning his life around. He was a homeless junkie for several years. His experiences during that time helped him paint an intimate, disturbing and realistic character for Charlie in the novel.
Since getting off of the streets, where he spent most of the 1990s, Joe Clifford has made writing his life. He is a “rock ‘n’ roll” writer who comes from a cutting-edge background and has successfully transitioned to the mainstream, which allows him to keep afloat in both worlds.