Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Houdini Pie - A review
Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publishers Bennett and Hastings for review. The views expressed here are honest and are in no way influenced by the publishers.
Young Hal Gates is a celebrated pitcher for an upstart rural ball club, and the son of a notorious booze smuggler who vanished at the end of Prohibition. At his lonely mother’s urging, and with the desperate backing of the municipal powers that be, he teams up with a crack pot geologist to mine for mythical Hopi treasure trove buried miles beneath the downtown streets. The deeper they tunnel the more Hal learns about loyalty, treachery, hunger and hope and mostly - in ways he would never imagine - about love.
I really enjoyed this story. I went into it not knowing much about the author, his short stories or his writing style but at the end I was really convinced that Michel is a really good writer. At first the story started off a bit slowly and if you had no motivation to read the book, you would probably close it at chapter 1. However, the slow start led up to a lot of intrigue and suspense. Before you know it, everyone is double-crossing each other and up for grabs is the promise of wealth and riches.
The entire story was supported by a great cast of characters and an even greater plot. I can almost imagine Hal with his gigantic stature and Rose; a mysterious woman with a mythical persona. I thought that the story was also well told. Michel successfully captured the era in his story and was studious enough to insert historical events that would help to mesh the story with the time period.
There were some things that I thought could have been explained better (or perhaps the explanation just simply flew over my head) like the reason why Warren was allowed to dig in a second location. Additionally, I sped through most of the base ball jargon because I am neither knowledgeable nor particularly interested in the game. Ultimately that ruined my chances of fully grasping the book since baseball along with treasure hunting was equally present in the book.
The whole issue of Houdini Pie is a play on the shear desperation that everyone faced during the great depression. In one way or the other the characters all needed something to believe in to get through that though period and the buried Hopi treasure was at the height of that. However, their belief in instant wealth and riches was always going to be unattainable. Even the way the story was structured with the climax of the story in the very last chapter, lends itself to that notion.
If you haven't read it yet, Houdini Pie should be an addition to your reading list.
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