The Fisher Boy by Stephen Anable
Poisoned Pen Press, 2008 (ARE)
Crime Fiction (Mystery); 337 pgs
Rating: (Good +)
First Sentence: In Provincetown, I felt enveloped in the shivery skin of a paranoid, all goose-bumps and heartbeat.
Reason for Reading: I came across this title through Bookbrowse's First Impressions Program and thought it sounded interesting enough to give it a try.
Comments: Mark Winslow, son of a jazz singer turned painter, gave up his day job to try his hand at acting. He takes his act to Cape Cod, settling into Provincetown where he has friends, hoping to land a gig for his comedy troupe. A promising summer stretches out before them, and Mark is confident that they will make a splash on the scene. Unfortunately, that is not what is meant to be.
A dog murdered and left on the doorsteps of a prominent gay resident in the area only proves to be a foreshadowing of what is to come. When a well-known gay resident is brutally murdered, tempers and fears in the community rage and concerns of discrimination and hate crimes bubble to the surface. Attention shifts to the Christian Soldiers, who have recently moved to town to spread their own interpretation of the Gospel. The town also has seen an increase in what appear to be runaways, dirty young people, with sticky fingers, preferring shoplifting over paying.
Mark is at the center of it all when he discovers the body of his childhood friend. Knowing that he will be the first suspect the police turn to because of an argument he had with the deceased not long before, he decides against reporting the discovery. Instead, he starts asking questions of his own, hoping to get to the bottom of the murder. The more questions Mark asks, the more attention he gets, and danger inevitably follows.
The novel takes awhile to get off the ground as the author sets the stage for the events to come. Mark Winslow is the naïve and curious protagonist, who at times I found a little exasperating but still likeable. He is trying to find his way in the world, both career wise and on a personal level. He grew up never knowing who his father was and, as a result, felt something has been missing from his life all along. Mark seems to make friends easily and knows how to use his acting skills to get what he wants in tight situations; still, he takes more risks than he should, not always thinking things out first.
Provincetown is an established community, full of diversity and a mixture of year round residents and summer vacationers. For the most part, it is a peaceful community where everyone gets along. Stephen Anable’s introduction of a right wing religious group into a liberal town was sure to spark controversy, and so it does. In addition, there is a profound dichotomy between the wealthy and those who have much less. The novel at times seems just as much a glimpse into the psyche of a community and the character of Mark as it is into the mystery itself.
Author Stephen Anable has crafted a unique and intriguing mystery with a myriad of characters, each with their own foibles and quirks. He packs quite a few different plot threads throughout the novel that will keep the reader guessing right up until all is revealed at the end. Suspenseful with a teaspoon of romance, The Fisher Boy is an entertaining novel.