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Book Review: Two Shots

Sometimes a book is just a good read. Something to guiltily pass the waning days of summer with instead of doing all the things one you had planned to do in May and June. If you are in need to spend the time reading instead facing the routine of facing the real world, Two Shots is perfect for you.

It is writing at it traditional finest. Joe Albert, the author found a way to rediscover the art of writing a novel without undue violence, sex or even crude language. It is as refreshing as the wintery Minnesota hunting town that all the action takes place. In this book the town is as much of a character in the story as the actual people. It brings most of us to an America we never knew existed. People know each other’s names, hunting is done with respect for the animals that are offered up for sport every year and even the weather plays a role in this. Mr. Albert does not merely write about the town, he paints it, with fine details.

This of course should not take away from the story itself. The story’s protagonist , a former Minneapolis cop who has a few issues of his own turned wildlife conservation officer, is happily enjoying hunting season. Making sure people play by the rules, don’t get drunk and shoot each other and the usual duties of the start of hunting season , when he answers a call for shots being fired (not unusual during hunting season) and ends up stumbling on a murder scene. The victim is a political strategist involved in a brutal runoff election after a particularly pyrrhic election.

The beauty of this book, part of what makes it well worth staying indoors or taking your office phone on the hook is the slow, steady build up. The lost art of character development and ‘Showing not telling” keeps you wanting to turn the page to see what is next and is paced to match the speed of life in the idyllic (and I suppose murderous) town. Characters are flawed but not over dramatically so, they seem to be people it is possible to meet in real life.

Is this a genre changing novel that will find itself in the annals of great influential American literature? It probably won’t be but not very novel needs to be. This is a well written book that goes back to good old fashioned writing to tell a great story. Sometimes that is reason enough to  buy and read a book.