If you’re into character-driven mystery thrillers with a bit of mysticism thrown in for good measure, you need to pick up a copy of The Fall of Billy Hitchings right now.
Note: we purchased our own copy of this book for review, but in the time since we finished it, we’ve begun talking with the author, Kirkus MacGowan, on Twitter. Give him a follow, and check out his site; he’s a great guy, and a superb writer!
The Fall of Billy Hitchings lulls you into a false sense of security. It begins like any dozens of other books that you’ve read, but out of nowhere, it kicks you in the balls, steals your wallet, and beckons you to just try and catch up to it. I distinctly remember my experience with the first chapter going something like this:
“Ok…yeah…so who are these people? Why do I care about their conversa-OH SWEET JESUS!”
After this initial shock has worn off, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a character-driven mystery, with all the curve balls, questions, and false literary paths that you could possibly want. MacGowen has not only woven a great story, but he’s presented it in a way that will keep you guessing from one paragraph to the next.
On its surface, the story appears to be simple: written from the perspective of three different people (but always remaining in the third-person), the book chronicles the exploits of a former marine, an archaeologist, and a seemingly stereotypical young adult as they work to unravel the secrets of an unspeakable and ancient power. Unfortunately, I can’t really say anything more in regards to the story, since it unfolds for the reader at the same pace as it does for the characters. With that in mind, just know that you’ll be thinking about this one long after you finish it.
MacGowen has down a masterful job of fleshing everyone out in this book, and by the end, you’ll feel like you truly know them. I don’t just mean that you’ll know about their past, or their way of doing things; I mean that you’ll expect them to call you on the phone, ask you to a party, and get you drunk. To be honest, I’m not all together sure how he managed to do this, as the characters themselves are not necessarily too far out there in their design (unless that’s EXACTLY how he did it: by making realistically believable characters, rather than snapshots of people. Interesting…I hadn’t even thought of that until I edited this post…) MacGowan has managed to truly bring these characters to life, and while the story is entertaining as all hell, the characters provide the real meat in this book.
For me, no where is this more evident than with Jarrett, a man whose role won’t be explored in this review for fear of spoilers. All I will say is this: You will love to hate him, but hate that you love him.
If you like your books to be a slow burn with an occasional hydrogen explosion-sized surprise, The Fall of Billy Hitchings awaits you. Just make sure you don’t start it a day before you have to go to work: this one will keep you up late.