Every man, woman, child - not to mention dog and plant - owes its life to Jack Durkin. Had he and nine generations of Durkins before him not been weeding a field in a small New England town from winter thaw to first frost, we'd all be goners. For these aren't weeds, but lethal, fanged killing machines that, if allowed to grow, would have us all for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
At least that's how Durkin, the title character of Dave Zeltserman's delicious horror-ish novel, "The Caretaker of Lorne Field," sees it. His family was contracted 300 years ago by desperate villagers convinced that these Godzillas in the grass would destroy the world if left unchecked. ....
Zeltserman is the author of increasingly accomplished crime novels, distinguished by spare and crisp prose, believable dialogue, imaginative plot twists and tightly wound characters who don't wear out their welcome.
He may be even more suited to the fantasy/horror genre than to a literary life of crime. Without slowing the action, Zeltserman wryly sprinkles in sub-themes about belief vs. logic, sacrifice vs. selfishness, and one generation against another. Perhaps the most interesting characters in the book are the older people who believe in Durkin and who, knowing how underpaid and unappreciated he is, treat him like a local hero rather than the fool on the hill.
Of course, this is literally a dying breed of citizenry. The question is whether we'll all be a dying breed of humanity if Durkin isn't allowed to keep weeding. Me, I'm not saying anything except, keep reading. Durkin may or may not be a loose caboose, but Zeltserman is fully in control.