Lamentation by Joe Clifford

Sometimes a book is just a quiet little thing. It sneaks up on you while you are reading it and when you are done, you close it and sit for a minute before realizing “Hey, I really, really liked that story.” This is one of those books. It is not long. I read it in one sitting.

Although this is billed as a mystery story, I think that label is misapplied. This is more of a character study of two brothers and the different roads they have traveled after the untimely death of their parents.

The main character, Jay, is kind of spinning his wheels in his small New Hampshire hometown. He has a child with a woman who moved out and is now living with another man – an ex bikie. Jay seems kind of unmotivated to make changes though he clearly expresses the thoughts that he needs to do something to engage the gears and move his life forward. He is working in a dead end job for a nice guy but the money is irregular and seasonal.

His brother is a former high school athlete, several years older than Jay with a troubled past and present. His dropping in and out of Jay’s life has caused friction with his ex and Jay is no longer willing to either trust or believe his brother who has basically become a drug addicted and addled street person.

The local police contact Jay to assist them in bringing in the brother. What follows is not so much a mystery as an unraveling. In small towns, secrets are often the stock and trade of families. Because everyone knows everyone, there are always disruptions that lie just below the surface and if they erupt, they have a tendency to rewrite the town’s history.

This is a slowly unfolding story bringing the actions of people in the past to meet their consequences in the present. These actions will either propel the individual characters into a positive forward motion or stop them dead in their tracks.

I loved the title and that is what drew me to the book. A lamentation is a passionate outpouring of grief or sorrow. The Lamentation in this book refers to a mountain and a bridge but the dictionary definition also applies. Through the grief comes hope.

I understand this is book one in the series but I can’t see how the main character can really go anywhere as a “detective” since that is not really what this book appears to be. I loved it as a stand alone story. It can bear its own weight well.

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