Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Reading: The Paperboy by Pete Dexter

One of the latest books I've read is The Paperboy by Pete Dexter. The story centers around the town on Lately in Florida and a murder that happened years ago. Hillary Van Wetter is on death row for carrying out the murder however all is not as it seems and Ward and his journalistic partner Yardley set up a temporary office in Lately to investigate what really happened to write a newspaper article about it.

The protagonist is Jack, Ward's brother and coincidentally son of the owner of the newspaper. Who, after being kicked out of college, has returned home and works as a paperboy for his Dad's newspaper. He is then hired to drive for Ward and Yardley as they investigate Hillary. The final key character is Charlotte who is now Hillary's finance after becoming involved with him after the began a correspondence. She's in love with her man, convinced he's innocent and barges herself into Yardley and Ward's investigation to make sure they prove it.

Jack is the strong silent type, observing what's happening around him and serving as the narrator of the book. As the story continues it begins to get darker and darker. Charlotte turns out to be quite a character sleeping with any one of the other characters she can get her hands on. On a trip to try and establish an alibi for Hillary the story gets even darker and Ward is beat almost to death by some sailors he meets in a bar, of which his involvement with is never really established by concerning none the less.

Finally the story pays off, is published, wins a Pulitzer price, Yardley becomes an author, Hillary is released and Charlotte moves into his house in the remote Florida swamp. Whilst Ward ambles through to recovery with the help of alcohol. But there is no happy ending here, Jack after having built a strong bond with Charlotte is worried about her welfare as it is quite obvious that Hilary is a crazy murderer. Him and Ward go to the swamp to save Charlotte however Hilary has killed her, he then kills Ward too forcing Jack to try and escape the alligator infested swamp alone.

Whilst the book is quite heavy it definitely managed to maintain my interest through out. The characters whilst difficult to relate to, maybe except Jack, were compelling and interesting. The story isn't predictable and the outcome was unexpected, grim yet satisfying.

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