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- Publié sur Amazon.com
No one in "Bloodstained Kings" is actually in jail, but perhaps they should be-the stench of lies and mendacity suffuse the New Orleans setting. It's like "Road Warrior" as envisioned by Tennessee Williams. Tim Willocks' intense second novel leaves you drained and breathless, with desperate characters and tableaux ricocheting inside your head. Willocks' first book, "Green River Rising," was an extraordinarily wrenching thriller drenched in blood and heat and sex and philosophy, and his second is in the same vein. That tale took us inside the claustrophobic confines of an experimental prison; this one seems set inside the feverish, violent minds of the people who populate it.
The basic plot of "Bloodstained Kings" is pretty straightforward: Two ruined lives are brought together by a voice from, apparently, beyond the grave, when instructions left by a dying man jolt the novel's key characters out of stagnant existences and set in motion a series of implosions and explosions. We meet Lenna Parrilaud, a ruthless and rich businesswoman motivated only by hatred and malaise. Thirteen years ago, Parrilaud conspired to fake the death of her husband, who had performed several heinous acts against her, and has kept him drugged and helpless, in a secret barracks, ever since. Her world has been "a dark one, filled with malice and pain."
And, as in "Green River Rising," Willocks gives us a flawed and reluctant hero, a psychiatrist with the unlikely name of Cicero Grimes. Grimes has spent the last six months "clinging to the driftwood of his own self-disgust on a far-flung beach of despair," filled with rage but hampered by "psychotic melancholia." The reason for his withdrawal: a life-or-death encounter with a corrupt, larger-than-life policeman named Clarence Jefferson, the same man who helped Parrilaud imprison her husband, "the bad man's Calvin, a philosopher-king of vileness." In an incident that Willocks explains inadequately, Grimes managed to kill Jefferson, or so he thought, and is stunned to receive! a to-be-opened-in-the-event-of-my-death letter from the dying cop. The letter asks Grimes to carry out a dangerous mission-namely, to disseminate a cache of blackmail evidence accumulated over a lifetime of power playing. Jefferson was "a man born for games, a Russian roulette addict, who forced others to play along with him and usually left their corpses in his wake. Now, from beyond the grave, his swollen corpse had spun the cylinder and placed the gun to Grimes's skull."
There's an appealingly self-assured teenage girl, and Grimes' father (a WWII vet hankering for one last mission), and a lot of bad guys in suits and fatigues-and don't forget Parrilaud's seething husband moldering away in his hidden cell. There's blood, blood everywhere. Grimes "had not imagined that so much would have to be spilled or that he would be steeped in it so deep." We hadn't imagined it, either. A lot of souls are bared, teeth gritted, fists clenched. Willocks' characters, faced with unendurable anguish, endure, and return the suffering, with interest. They hardly look before leaping into their own personal abysses. Their struggles, internal and external, command attention.
The narrative roars along like a supersonic jet, gathering speed all the way to the cataclysmic finale. Despite Willocks' depths-of-the-soul plumbing and his complex, conflicted characters, action takes precedence: When called upon to pick up a semiautomatic and gun down some bad guys, every character, whether doctor or lawyer or singer or executive or retired union man, turns into an action figure. (When the teenager holds a pistol, she feels "the siren song of the weapon's power.") Not so with Jefferson, a towering figure who, like a similar character in "Green River Rising," inspires flowerings of stiffly antiquated language. "He runs no more," Willocks writes, describing Jefferson getting into a car. "The vehicle shelters his bulk within and roars; and carries the fatman, and his bundle, hence. Whither he knows not, nor yet does he care." Later he! muses: "If desire was an amoral savagery that he'd embraced without apology or regret, then love was a degradation and a crime, a plunge into gutters randomly chosen, a futile unmaking, an imbecile's gargling laughter at the joke he did not understand." If ambitious writing like this catches you in the right mood, you may be stirred and moved; otherwise you may cringe. All the lyricism and philosophical musing ("Death is the youth of the world"-OK, whatever) lead you to believe that "Bloodstained Kings"-published early, like "Green River Rising" was, in England-is grander than it is. It's really just a particularly violent noir thriller. But it's a thriller that keeps you riveted for its duration.