Being a big fan a Keith Anthony Baird’s work, when I heard that this short story (novellete?- let’s not get bogged down with details) was not all that gory and horrific, I was not put off one tiny bit. And I was correct in this judgement, as this story is one hell of a dark tale.
Zachary is a kid born into a secret institution where every aspect of his life is planned out by evil bastards in white coats. He is given to his ‘parents’ who are instructed on how he is to be educated and how he is to behave.
Things begin to go badly for Zachary. But, of course, this is all part of the plan.
The story shifts at a rapid pace, and suddenly Zachary is a full-blown man. The relationships he has with women end badly, leaving him heartbroken, but again, this is the secret organisation’s doing.
He even meets some dude who claims to be his father; he seems very convincing, too. But I’m sure you can guess who organised this particular meeting.
It’s almost as if they want to drive him to self-destruction.
And then we come to the ending. This one threw me right off the scent and was handled brilliantly. Yeah, I never saw that coming. Once finishing the book I quickly re-read a few sections and felt a fool for not seeing what was happening; it all seemed so obvious in hindsight. But this is all credit to the writing.
The ideas and scenarios in this story could easily be fleshed out a bit and made into a full-length novel. Baird has written two excellent novels (The Jesus Man and Nexilexicon) already so the story would be in safe hands. This is no complaint, by the way, but as enjoyable as this story was, as short as it was, it read as though it could have been a very detailed synopsis of a novel, if you know what I mean.
All apart from the final showdown, of course.
This great book is another entry in Keith Anthony Baird’s awesome collection, and one I am highly recommending to, well, everyone!
Categories: book review