Donna Morrissey’s sixth novel tells the story of the Now family and their descent into chaos following a murder in their claustrophobic community. Already dealing with the loss of his brother, and his mother’s recent cancer diagnosis, Kyle Now is sent into something of a tailspin when he becomes a suspect. The victim, Clar Gillard, has made a lot of enemies, but only Kyle was spotted fighting with him on the night of his death, and only Kyle was seen wondering aimlessly through the woods at an ungodly hour. But Clar’s wife would surely have more of a motive. As would many others in this sleepy little town. Soon Kyle is trying to solve the crime for his own piece of mind, but the clues prove impossible to piece together. And can Kyle possibly figure things out without implicating somebody he loves?
This isn’t the first time Morrissey has focused on the Now family in her fiction. But for those who are new to her writing, like this reviewer, you shouldn’t let that put you off. The Fortunate Brother works as a standalone piece, even if there are a few occasions when you feel like you’re missing a key bit of backstory. That said, there is enough here to keep any reader involved. The characters are excellently realised, the plot is intriguing, and, for three quarters of the novel at least, the pacing is perfect. And all of that is without a single mention of the incredible writing, with enviable prose on pretty much every page.
If this review was focusing only on the first three quarters of the novel, it would be almost exclusively positive. The writing is impressive enough to draw comparisons with the likes of Annie Proulx, Evie Wyld, Wells Tower, and Smith Henderson. It’s impressive enough to make you want to order every book in her back catalogue and book yourself a week off work. But it would be remiss to review this book without mentioning the chaotic and at times incoherent final quarter. After such beautiful pacing in the early portions, it is disappointing that the book rushes to a conclusion that doesn’t get the concentration it deserves.
Any Cop?: A below par ending isn’t enough to make this a bad book, particularly not when so much good comes before it. In fact, it should still be considered an absolutely cracking read.