Thursday, July 30, 2009

DOUBLE EXPOSURE - Michael Lister

Remington James is a successful but unhappy advertising executive when his father dies. He returns to his hometown to run his father's store and care for his mother who is dying of MS. While he is home, he decides to pick up the hobby, the passion, he gave up years ago, wildlife photography. He has set trap cameras in the woods of the Apalachicola River Basin in hopes of maybe catching the elusive Florida panther. As he is out taking pictures and checking his traps one evening, he discovers that he has caught not the panther on his camera, but a murder. And now the murderers are hunting Remington through the pitch black of the Florida woods.

WARNING: I am about to gush over this incredible work of art. My hope is simply that it is a coherent gushing. O.k., you've been fairly warned.

If readers want to read DOUBLE EXPOSURE surfacely and minimally, they are in for a heart-pounding thriller. Lister's written a tight plot that doesn't allow one to slow down for even a second, just like his protagonist.

Lister created a powerful effect by being a minimalist in this novel. His protagonist is a photographer out taking pictures in the woods. Lister's prose mimics that process so you can hear the camera shutter click as you read:

Evening. Glow.
Dark figures.
Bloom of blood.
Body dropping to the cold ground.
Death. Digging.
And Lister's setting development carries you smack into the middle of Remington's Eden that is horrifically transformed into his Hell all in the course of one night. Remington reminds himself to "Use your senses. All of them." And Lister helps the readers to use their senses, all of them. Whether they are seeing the beauty of the landscape or the nightmare of a murder. Whether they are hearing life:

"Somwhere in the distance, a woodpecker taps out his mating morse code on the resonant bole of a hollow tree, and when a gentle breeze sways the tops of oaks, cypresses, magnolias, and gums, the falling leaves around him sound like the start of a soft rainfall."
Or feeling fear:

"Hairs rise.
Goose bumps.
Quickly. Quietly."
Readers will definitely be in the woods with Remington James on the most terrifying night of his life. But they'll have to listen carefully to hear nature's sounds over the thumping of their own hearts.

If you want to delve deeper, you will find a complex interweaving of theme, plot, character and setting that results in a magical reading experience. Remington is almost a unique character in crime fiction in that he comes from a functional family. His parents loved him and he loved his parents; while Remington doesn't seem conscious of it, the reader quickly learns that both parents taught him skills that made him a great man.

And of course, nature is a prominent theme as well as a symbol in DOUBLE EXPOSURE. The dark of night is essential to build up the suspense, but it plays a role also in the idea that man is destroying nature. So Remington's manic race is not just a race for his life, but a race for nature. Can they both make it out alive?

Double Exposure by Michael Lister.

DOUBLE EXPOSURE will be released by Tyrus Books in September. It will be available in hard cover (ISBN 978-0-9825209-2-5) and trade paper (978-0-9825209-3-2). Michael Lister will be donating all profits from DOUBLE EXPOSURE to environmental protection and conservation.


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