12) Three Fifths by John Vercher
Well, this book is a blast – and I don’t mean in the normal sense of ‘well, wasn’t that fun’, but more in the sense of explosion or a visceral force. It concerns a young biracial man, Bobby, who’s never told anyone his father is black – and who gets involved, right at the start of the novel, in a hate crime perpetrated by a long-standing ‘friend’ just out of prison. From that initial burst of action, the story spirals, expands and whirls up to a punch-to-the-gut ending.
The word I would most use to describe the novel is tight: it’s tightly and tautly written, packing considerable power for the number of pages, and there is also a tight, hold-your-breath suspense which encases the whole story as the reader gets propelled through it. And that suspense and tension is amplified by the LA Riots and OJ Simpson trial happening in the background, as the book is set in Pittsburgh in 1995.
Don’t have much else to say really – except read it. It’s thrilling, and exceptionally strong on racism, poverty, alcoholism, white supremacy, and identity. As well as being a fast-paced and gripping crime novel.