The Hungry Detective has read a fair number of 'new' authors as of late. They are 'new' in the sense that they have a few books in their canon, but until now unread by me. Daniel Judson is one of those guys. And he falls into the loose and vague category of tough guy crime writer.
Mr. Judson's latest is THE VIOLET HOUR and it is just about the best thing I have read this year. Cal is a somewhat normal guy. Well, normal enough for a Crime Novel anyway. He works as an un-certified mechanic paid under the table by his shyster boss while hiding a pregnant friend from her abusive husband. Besides this female entanglement, Cal is on his own. His criminal father and drug addicted brother are now dead. Cal is the straight arrow. He has kept his head down and minded his own business.
I'll cut to the chase here and point out a moment that I think encapsultes this book perfectly. Near the end of THE VIOLET HOUR Cal is rummaging around his apartment before he leaves to rejoin two woman he has been hiding. The scene is rather simple. Cal is collecting the money he has earned and hidden over the last four years. He has killed men in the course of the book, all in self defense or in defense of those he loves, but in these moments of near victory there is the unmistakable loneliness. Lonliness of the life he is leaving behind and lonliness for the life he will now have to live. What Cal has done over the course of THE VIOLET HOUR had been for expressly for others. These are noble actions particularly as they are all done for people who can never repay him. Cal's reward for his selfless actions is only more wasted solitude. Crime Fiction is littered with this kind of desolation of the human soul, but Cal is a different guy. He does not shun the attentions and affections of others. He yearns for it. From the very open pages of THE VIOLET HOUR it is apparent that he has a desperate longing for contact. What comes out of this book is a terrific dark novel. I don't mean to be trite when I write that it is a story about how violence can touch our lives and devastate everything in its path. There is a beautiful awfulness to THE VIOLET HOUR, but nothing quite as devastating as Cal's journey into his own wilderness. Read this book!