It's an awkward paradox when a new writer pens an acclaimed debut novel. I am excited by the prospect of a fresh voice, an undiscovered talent waiting to be unwrapped like a gift. Then the potential disappointment.
My expectations were too high, the gift is glitter and not gold. Added to this is the fact that this is a love story, which I am not generally keen on. But hang on, this is a dark love story. I decide to take the plunge.
The opening describes a scene, a memory that flashes like neon lights. I love how Gennoe uses this imagery, sentences written like poetry and flashing lights, in short bursts. We can sense the passion, the longing, the memories.
The rest of the book focuses on how our hero tries to find his lost love by checking up on her and following into another country. The dark element becomes apparent: he is a stalker. And although he may believe that he is in love with this mysterious woman, in reality she is his fantasy and infatuation. The sex is fantastic, obviously.
Gennoe uses a repetition technique of describing unknown people that I find quite amusing. I guess that is how some of our minds work and certainly for the main character. For example, the 'hot, almost Goth barrister' and the 'smart, middle-aged man in the grey suit' terms are used every time the character is referenced. Some readers find this style a bit off-putting. To me, it is almost child-like, which I think the protagonist is.
The neon lights is an apt symbol for this love affair. Bright, alluring but also cheap and superficial. He knows practically nothing about the love of his life, not where she lives, her friends or just about anything else. That is exciting to him. She is confident, alluring...and the rest. He is a stereotypical man who is easily distracted by other women, which appears to be his downfall.
This is a detailed book where I feel as if I know the main character. Not too keen on him though. It is an uncomfortably drawn out tale, possibly deliberately so, but just a bit too much for me to the point where I was glad it was finished. Still, it is a great debut novel and I'm sure there will be more from Dan Gennoe.