Bassoff, Jon - Corrosion
The first section of this slams like a fist to the side of your head. Joseph Downs, disfigured combat vet, exits his truck, broken down this side of nowhere. There’s a bar, there’s always a bar.
Inside, a women is being abused, beaten, while residents mind their own business. Downs doesn’t. He intervenes and the squalid tale starts going tick - tick - tick.
This is hard-boiled, full Noir, and the most ferocious part of the book.
Second section harks back seven years. Benton Faulk, high school misfit. Ma dying in a lonely room, Pa, self-taught scientist, trying to concoct a cure amongst a room full of rats.
Benton’s home is a hothouse of guilt, betrayal, obsessive desire.
For all this, I wish the author had not named that kid Faulk since it leads me to think of Faulkner and Southern Gothic, of which this reeks, even though these are mountain residents.
The two characters, Downs and Faulk, are damned and doomed. Page by page, you wonder how much is delusion, how much is warped madness, and how much is Fate.
Fate, nudging these characters this way and that, yet always towards each other. Pushing the encounter, pushing them into the tight dark confines of rotten air and sorry chances.
For a first book, solid.