Thursday, May 15, 2014
DIALOGUES OF A CRIME by JOHN K. MANOS
The fact that this cover looks like something you would have for a college class is intentional I would think. The story begins with a college student and turns into a psychological study of his supposed crime and its far-reaching effects.
Nineteen year old Michael J. Pollitz awakens in his dorm room to pounding on his door. Confused, he is summarily identified and arrested for a felony. It turns out his "crime" was showing a man to a room in the dorm where he could buy drugs. Pollitz didn't participate in drug dealing and only occasionally used them. He was a promising student on scholarship in a small Illinois school where the majority came from wealthy families. His father was a plumber.
Despite an offer of help from his best friend's father, "the" mobster in Chicago, Pollitz bows to his father's wishes and uses the public defender. In prison he is beaten almost to death by three punks and raped by two of them. Upon his release he is picked up by the mobster. He then returns to finish his degree and goes on to a less than satisfying career in advertising.
This book is how that episode and his friendship affect his life until years later when he and a cop spark deep reflection in each other about love, loyalty, whether anyone deserves to be killed, the evil that exists in some men, and the real worth of work. Both had survived tragedy and come out on the other side changed forever, both are smart and inclined to introspection. These are fascinating characters, as are the mobsters. Manos makes gentle fun of their way of speaking like movie Mafia enforcers. The boss though is a complex character and more difficult to figure out. The major question though is how Pollitz can justify his loyalty to such a man, yet be aware of the evil done by him.
Klinger the cop reminds me a bit of Columbo. I loved him and his girlfriend Dora, both overweight middle-aged people who enjoy one of the best relationships I've seen in fiction in a long time. But Michael Pollitz is the mystery here. Has his life been stunted by his rape, his deep disappointment in his father, his lack of ambition just a sign that life pretty much ended for him in 1972 in prison?
I'm so glad I read this book. It's so totally different from anything I've read in ages. No action, no unbelievable escapades, no big heroes, just the conundrum of Michael Pollitz's life. Don't take this one to the beach; save it for a rainy evening with no distractions.
Source: Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours