Thank You to FSG Originals for providing me with an advanced copy of Cote Smith's Hurt People, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT- Set in the late 80's in the prison town of Leavenworth, Kansas, Cote Smith's debut novel, Hurt People is the story of a broken family. Two young brothers split the time between their recently divorced parents. Their father, a cop, is on the hunt for an escaped murderer dubbed, The Stranger. Their mother, works at a golf course that is filled with co-workers who have "done time", including her new boyfriend. Bored and on their own in their mother's apartment, the two boys sneak trips to the community pool, where they befriend a man named Chris. Could Chris be the escaped convict?
LIKE- Smith's novel nails tension. My stomach was in knots from worrying about the boys in the pool. There is no moment in Hurt People where the sense of impending danger is eased, making it a page-turner. Smith has created a compelling family drama, where each character has a deep sense of regret and isolation. It's actually quite heartbreaking.
There are multiple scenes that are shocking and graphic in content. Smith handles these moments with care and sensitivity. Although it's disturbing and shocking, it's not done simply for shock value. These moments are necessary, driving both the plot and character development. Admittedly, I can't think of too many other novels that I have read, that have similarly shocking elements. It's intense.
DISLIKE- Even though Hurt People is a page-turner, there were points where I felt that the novel was dragging. This is especially true in the climax scene with the tornado. I'd definitely be interested in reading the short story from which Hurt People is based as a comparison.
RECOMMEND- Yes! Hurt People is a powerhouse debut by an author who is surely on the rise. I look forward to reading more novels by Smith in the future.