Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review of Even Flow by Darragh McManus (2012, Roundfire Books)

Wilde, Whitman and Waters are the three members of the 3W gang in New York City.  Inspired by feminism, resistance and art movements, they have turn vigilante, administering justice to misogynists and homophobes - what they call ‘enforced karma’.  The gang video their exploits and send them to a local TV station.  They pass the first tape on to the police and the case is assigned to Detective Sergeant Danny Everard, a gay cop who is going through a messy break-up.  As Danny tries to track the gang members, they become more daring, and their exploits start to gain notoriety as they’re leaked on to the internet and to other media stations.  Whilst he has sympathy with the their message, Danny can’t condone their approach, and a cat-and-mouse chase ensues. 

Even Flow is difficult to categorise - it’s kind of a political, screwball noir.  It took me a chapter or so to get into the story, but once it clicked into place the pages just flew-by.  The second half of the story is especially strong as the action, dialogue and politics all get ratcheted-up, and it has a very nice noir ending.  It helped that the cultural references were of my generation and that the gender and sexual politics of the gang are ones that I share.  Interestingly, the text is broken up by photo-dialogue pieces, newspaper articles, emails and art.  The characterisation is a little thin, but what makes this a fun and engaging read is the plot and politics.  I’d recommend it to anyone who likes their noir to have a deeper message.

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