Faces in the Fire: Where Lives Collide by T.L. Hines (Thomas Nelson, July 14, 2009), 400 pages
Kurt Marlowe is a truck driver turned sculptor, with no memory of his past. He hears voices in clothing he buys at estate sales. Faces in the Fire is mainly Kurt’s story, but there are definitely other peoples’ stories in the book. We also meet Corinne, a spammer whose cancer is unresponsive to treatment; Grace, a tattoo artist addicted to heroin; and Stan, a hit man who’s haunted by his own killing ability. Something ties all the stories together — or maybe more than one something — this is not a novel-by-vignette. A catfish, a scribbled number, horrible fire, mystery. There’s a definite feeling of serendipity.
The book trailer:
I was excited about the art angle as soon as I opened the book. Chapters are numbered, and that numbered order corresponds to a chronological storyline. But the chapters aren’t presented in numerical (or chronological) order. This, plus the ensemble nature of the story’s cast, and the fast pacing, reminded me of Mission: Impossible, the movie made in the 1990s. So many twists and turns, and the writer expects engagement from the reader and doesn’t spoon-feed.
I also enjoyed the setting. Parts of the story take place in Seattle, Idaho, and Montana. I’ve long been fascinated by Seattle, and I lived in Montana for a few years.
Hines calls his books “noir bizarre,” and I think this fits that description.
Amongst all the twists and turns, we learn the story is at least slimmly tied to 9/11/01. I didn’t know this before I started reading, or I may not have read the book. I haven’t been able to reading any 9/11 book yet — it’s still too raw, I think, but I’m not exactly sure. This, though, was an OK place for me to be introduced to September 11 on the page without feeling betrayed or overwhelmed.
I enjoyed the writing. I found this picturesque: “Out here, in the deep forests of the Pacific Northwest, far from the lights of cities, the stars multiplied in the dark fabric of the sky” (page 34).
The story was kind of creepy, especially at first — Kurt hears ghosts talking, after all. I didn’t find it over the top, though. This was my first Hines, but I look forward to reading more by him.
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