Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere by John McFetridge (Harcourt) 304 pagesRead about the other titles on the list.
Set in Toronto, John McFetridge’s sophomore offering (after Dirty Sweet) features an ensemble cast from both sides of the law, most of them spokes radiating out from Sharon, a single mother operating a low-level dope-growing operation. Gangs of Italians, South Asians and Angels, all grafting for a heavier slice of Toronto’s new prosperity; a Native American cop and his recently widowed partner investigating an apparent suicide while sitting on the powder keg of an internal affairs probe about to blow the Toronto force apart; Ray, a new face on the scene with an offer Sharon can’t refuse; Richard, the old flame now a power broker in the world of Canadian crime. A multi-character narrative, this story unfolds with a brevity, fluidity and power that is reminiscent of Elmore Leonard’s writing, in that it’s almost an abbreviation of style. One of its chief delights, however, is that McFetridge appears to be working on a more epic scale -- Toronto is here a microcosm of the contemporary world, where criminality is leading the charge towards globalization and leaving the local law-enforcement officers dazed with the speed and force of the onslaught. It’s also a tremendously fun read, the whole imbued with a deadpan wit, particularly in the sections where the supposedly dumb-ass criminals use the jargon of business executives to discuss their trade. Swaggeringly self-assured, it reads like the work of a master in mid-career; that it’s only McFetridge’s second novel only adds to the satisfaction. -- Declan Burke
The Page 69 Test: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.