- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Pain. Think of the myriad meanings of the word. There is physical pain: the pain of cutting your finger with a knife; psychological pain: pain caused by years of resentment and anger; spiritual pain: the pain of losing a loved one. There are different gradations of pain: uncomfortable, agonizing, excruciating — and beyond that, there are levels of pain that are unique to each individual. James Hall's latest novel, Red Sky at Night, handles the diverse and interesting nature of pain while giving it a curious poignancy.
Phantom pain is an ailment that plagues para- and quadriplegics. Thorn, Hall's multifaceted loner from his book Buzz Cut, visits a pain clinic run by a friend in which victims of phantom pain are given great relief by swimming with dolphins. A day later, the dolphins are found dead, their tanks empty and their bodies horribly mutilated. Thorn begins to investigate, provoking a vicious attack that leaves him paralyzed from the waist down. In a wheelchair, embittered and desperate, Thorn enters the pain clinic of a childhood friend; however, this is anything but fortuitous.
Bean Wilson is the austere doctor who runs the clinic, assisted by Pepper Tremaine, a mysterious and voluptuous woman who chews hot peppers like candy and wears a scalpel as a daily accoutrement. Their work, as it doesn't take long for Thorn to find out, is directly connected to the brutal slaughtering of the dolphins. They say a thriller is only as good as its villains, and here, with Bean and Pepper, Hall exemplifies his inclinationtowardbizarre and unique antagonists who have a touch of humanity, even if slightly mutated.
The element of Thorn's pain, along with that of his fellow patients, is apparent. But what about the other types of pain? Thorn is staunchly independent and taciturn. Does this ever cause him pain? Pepper longs for the love of Bean. She can hardly wait for the day when they will be together for all of eternity. Does this cause her pain? And Bean? Bean's pain is the result of an insidious rage that he harbors for Thorn, and at last, he has him, weak and incapacitated. Red Sky at Night, while a unique and bizarre thriller, transcends this material to become a thoughtful elegy on the nature of hurting. With Red Sky at Night, there is pleasure in pain.