I was given a copy of Drift for review a few weeks ago so, now that I'm done with the Monthly Mix-Up Mania challenge, I turned to this as my next read. Drift is basically a drama, but with elements of the thriller about it.
The opening scene is a grisly one, as we witness the brutal murder of a bar owner by his nephew, but this is the last we see of the murderer for a while, as the action then switches to our protagonist, Travis. Travis is single and working in a job that's well-paid but which doesn't fulfil him, but the story darts around in time quite a bit and is interspersed with scenes from an earlier time when he was happy, newly married to Eileen and working as a record producer. We spend the early part of the novel wondering how Travis got from being a happy husband, and later father, to being alone and miserable.
I imagined all sorts of things - perhaps the murderer from the opening scene killed Travis's wife and child, perhaps they were killed in a fire (Travis has a dream about a fire, so I thought this was a sure thing), or perhaps one of them did something dreadful which couldn't be forgiven. When Travis leaves his job and travels back to his old home and family, I was expecting some great secret to be revealed so was a little disappointed when it turned out to be rather more mundane than I had anticipated. However, once I got past the initial feeling of anticlimax, I enjoyed reading about Travis's return to his family and the reception he gets there. Travis and Eileen have an interesting relationship; I couldn't always get a handle on it, but I had fun trying to work out what motivated these characters, why they were attracted to each other and where things had gone wrong.
But what of our murderer from the opening scene? Well, fortunately he returns about halfway through the book and starts a killing spree in the small town of Greenwood which has the whole neighbourhood on tenterhooks. He's a psychopath, devoid of most emotion, and the scenes which explored his past got right inside his head and were by far the strongest bits of the book. There are some really shocking scenes from his early life, some parts of which were also quite moving. I actually wished there had been more focus on the killer and less on Travis and Eileen, who sometimes got a little tiresome (particularly Eileen, who doesn't seem to know what she wants half the time).
Of the writing style in general I'd say it's not quite there yet, but certainly shows promise. There were a few errors and the odd moment that made me cringe slightly (especially the sex scene, which included the immortal lines, "She pulled them down, he whipped it out. Non kosher."), but I basically enjoyed the book. It had a good pace and was quite a page-turner, and only took me two days to read. I find the length of time it takes me to finish a book is usually a good indication of how much I enjoyed it!
The book also includes a nice little short story from the author's upcoming collection, and an author's note which indicates he may continue with Travis and Eileen's story in a future book. Personally, I'd like to see him explore his dark side a little more with a fully-fledged crime thriller, as he's definitely got a talent for writing about the evil that lurks within.