Living through the experience of losing his family to a crazed killer causes Joe Reddick to be over-protective of his second family. Andy Baumhower has no knowledge of Reddick or his past when fate sends Baumhower's van crashing into Reddick's car. Baumhower happens to be returning from dumping a body in the L.A. River. Reddick's completely ignorant to that fact, but it doesn't keep Baumhower's partners from thinking otherwise. They decide to threaten Reddick's family to make sure he doesn't talk. Wrong decision!
ASSUME NOTHING is the type of plot where one freak situation leads to another freak situation and events simply snowball. Haywood doesn't interject insulting humor that often comes with stories like this, leaving readers shaking their heads and mumbling, "that would never happen; how ridiculous." Instead he depicts a scenario readers will find highly probable. One that may even leave them to be terrified of experiencing a fender bender ever again. The plot is built with well-placed twists and unexpected turns. And his use of alternating perspectives creates mini-cliff-hangers that intensify the suspense.
While I can't say that the scarred hero taking on improbable odds is a unique story concept, I can say that Gar Anthony Haywood writes with an exquisite style unlike anyone else. His descriptions bring dimension to a flat page and breathe life into fictional characters:
"The man named Junior Greene whom Reddick knew during his old days on the Riviera Beach Police Department was tall, black, and ugly as homemade sin. And it only made matters worse that he had the teeth of a bull moose.
"When Greene smiled, he looked like a fighter trying to eject his mouthpiece."
The dichotomy of beautiful use of language to create an ugliness so vivid you feel goosebumps raise on your arms is what this joy of reading is all about. And Haywood's writing can grab your heart just as effectively:
"He'd been an emotional cripple for a long time, a borderline psychopath walking a razor wire between normalcy and madness, and now he'd been pushed over the edge. His head throbbed and his body ached, and he felt like the only thing holding him together was his skin, that if he turned too quickly in one direction or another, he'd crumble into a pile of ashes that would then scatter to the far winds."
ASSUME NOTHING has good guys employing vigilante tactics to defeat the bad guys. Whether readers condone his cowboy approach or not, they'll be cheering for Reddick because ultimately they're praying that life isn't so cruel as to condemn the innocent and reward the guilty over and over and over again. In Haywood's world, Fate can be very unkind; the question is, can man's determination overpower it?
ASSUME NOTHING is fast-paced, beautifully written, thought-provoking and simply put, a spectacular book. Gar Anthony Haywood is a hidden gem. It's time for crime fiction to expose this prize and let him sparkle!
ASSUME NOTHING is available now from Severn House in hardcover (ISBN: 9780727880833).