GUEST POST – Auralee Wallace
In Punishment, his first novel since completing his Long Stretch trilogy, Scotiabank Giller-winner Linden MacIntyre brings us a powerful exploration of justice and vengeance, and the peril that ensues when passion replaces reason, in a small town shaken by a tragic death.
Forced to retire early from his job as a corrections officer in Kingston Penitentiary, Tony Breau has limped back to the village where he grew up to lick his wounds, only to find that Dwayne Strickland, a young con he’d had dealings with in prison is back there too–and once again in trouble. Strickland has just been arrested following the suspicious death of a teenage girl, the granddaughter of Caddy Stewart, Tony’s first love.
Tony is soon caught in a fierce emotional struggle between the outcast Strickland and the still alluring Caddy. And then another figure from Tony’s past, the forceful Neil Archie MacDonald–just retired in murky circumstances from the Boston police force–stokes the community’s anger and suspicion and an irresistible demand for punishment. As Tony struggles to resist the vortex of vigilante action, Punishment builds into a total page-turner that blindsides you with twists and betrayals.
Ah, November. I could not pick a better release date month for Linden MacIntyre’s Punishment.
That doesn’t sound very good, does it? Yet, in my biased opinion (redundancy intentional), Punishment is a good book.
Let me begin by saying, I am not the best person to review Punishment. I have a long-held bias towards Canadian Literature. It probably started back in university when I signed up for a Can. Lit. class. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the first short story assigned was entitled “Snow,” and from there we ventured into tales of incest, disease, rape, and more general winter suffering. This is not to say these works didn’t have merit, on the contrary, they were assigned university readings, therefore someone with a PhD already had vetted them as “good,” or at the very least “important” and I was deeply affected by their powerful deliverance of messages of…of what? Cold, horror and dismay? I’m only half joking here, but the point is, I wouldn’t argue their literary merits, I just felt like I needed to be treated for depression afterwards.
Now, I’m not claiming to be an expert on Canadian Literature as I took only the one course, and I’m sure there are many shiny, happy examples of Canadian books out there that wouldn’t leave me feeling like I had been emotionally carved out. I just haven’t found them.
Fast-forwarding to present times, when I picked up MacIntyre’s book, I thought maybe I was ready to dip a toe once again into frigid Canadian waters. After all, it had been at least a year since I had read any other Canadiana, and it has been a relatively warm and sunny fall.
I still can’t decide if it was a good idea or not.
From a more clinical point of view (I’m not going to pretend to strive for objectivity), the book’s story questions were compelling. I read it quickly. I was invested in what was happening. I found the themes of justice and punishment intellectually satisfying, and I admired the weaving of the characters’ struggles against the aftermath of 911. As for the publisher’s promise of a “total page-turner that blindsides you with twists and betrayals,” well, the problem with such a claim is that I found myself looking for all the twists. As a result, I wasn’t so much blindsided at the turn of the page, as I was turning the page to be validated in my suspicions – a nonetheless satisfying experience (let’s be honest, sometimes even more satisfying). So yes, for me, Punishment, meets most, if not all, of my criteria for a really good, maybe even an excellent, book. More to the point, perhaps it will meet yours. I will say, however, that I’m going to wait at least a year again before I delve back into any Canadian literature…maybe even longer. I’ll re-evaluate in the spring.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Linden MacIntyre is the co-host of the fifth estate and the winner of nine Gemini Awards for broadcast journalism. His most recent book, a boyhood memoir called Causeway: A Passage from Innocence won both the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the Evelyn Richardson Prize for Non-Fiction.
- Linden MacIntyre on community, vengeance and punishment
- Punishment: Linden MacIntyre’s thriller marked by unstoppable momentum and a serpentine storyline
Auralee Wallace is an author of humorous commercial women’s fiction and occasional guest blogger at Penny Dreadful Book Reviews https://pennydreadfulbooks.me/. She is a member of the RWA, and her debut novel, Sidekick, a superhero urban fantasy, placed as a finalist in the Virginia Fool for Love Contest, The TARA Contest and The Catherine. Sidekick has been picked up by Harlequin’s Escape Publishing and is due for release June 1st, 2014. Auralee has an undergraduate degree in psychology, a Master’s degree in English literature and has worked in the publishing industry for a number of years before teaching at the college level.
Auralee has always been fascinated by the power of stereotypes in terms of race, gender, and disability and how those beliefs colour our understanding of the world and of each other.
When this semi-natural blonde mother of three children and two rescue cats isn’t writing or playing soccer, she can be found watching soap operas with lurid fascination and warring with a family of peregrine falcons for the rights to her backyard. She can also be found on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, and her blog http://auraleewallace.com.