It has been nonstop busy at my house the past few months and yesterday as I was browsing the stacks of a used bookshop I found myself thinking about the terrific books I read in 2009, and there were many. I rediscovered the work of several classic suspense, crime, and western novelists. The best of the bunch was probably the work of Brian Garfield.He hasn't published a new work of fiction since the late-1980s, which is a shame since he really redefined the suspense novel with his novel Death Wish and then kept getting better and better. And then simply stopped writing, or at least publishing, fiction.
The following is a review of Brian Garfield's Necessity. It was the first of several Garfield novels I read last year, and when I think about it I can't help but smile. It is a terrific suspense novel with as much flair and style as you will find in the genre. It originally went live July 6, 2009.
It’s been several years since I’ve read a Brian Garfield novel—maybe Death Sentence in '04 or '05. I made amends recently and jumped into his 1984 novel Necessity and wondered how I waited so long.
“It’s the sixth day after the theft. She pulls off the Interstate in Tucson, a city she has never seen before. According to the atlas it is a county seat and the second largest city in Arizona—population half a million people.”
Matty LaCasse is a former model and now the wife of a wealthy New York construction magnate. She is the recent mother of a beautiful and healthy baby girl. She is on the run, alone, scared and hell-bent to get her daughter back.
Matty tracks across the American West, a briefcase full of cash with her and a plan; she needs a home away from her pursuers, but to do so she needs to become someone else. An entirely new person that no one from her old life will recognize or even associate with the person she was.
Necessity is an absolute firecracker. It opens with a white hot flash and never lets up—the action is tight and it is expertly used as a tool to ratchet the suspense from vague dread to outright terror. The characters are perfectly molded into dimensional people who are likable, terrifying and, most importantly, believable. The storyline is linear and sharp with enough false leads and psychology—mostly Matty’s—to keep the reader off balance and avidly turning the pages—which is all terrific, but Mr Garfield also flavors the story with technical information about creating new identities and, more importantly, erasing an original identity. He creates a world that is real and absorbing without slowing the story with too much detail and information.
The narrative is smooth and inviting. It is told in a matter-of-fact fashion, and with the seldom-used present tense—“She lets herself in and double-locks the door and slumps into the threadbare easy chair. Strength flows away as if a drainplug has been pulled.”
Necessity is an example of what a thriller should be--quick, hard, intense, and thrilling. It is a story that was published twenty-five years ago, but it still has a freshness and originality that makes it compelling and entertaining reading. In short, it is a novel that should not only be read, but that should be savored.