A short but terrifying ride.
In Virginia, William Esmont confronts us with a dreadful question: exactly how far would you be willing to go in order to save a loved one? For Ray Shelby, the answer is pretty far. Much in the vein of Stephen King’s short story “Quitters, Inc.” and David Fincher’s film The Game, Virginia presents the reader with a classic “deal with the devil” scenario: a desperate man turning to a shadowy corporation for relief, and inevitably getting in over his head.
Esmont’s concise, clipped writing lends the text a cold, clinical feel befitting the subject matter. (Reminiscent of Thomas Harris’s style.)
The first person perspective is deftly utilized, granting the reader an introspective window into the protagonist’s mind—we suffer with him as his options begin to run out, the walls closing in, the pressure mounting.
The story’s settings are as developed as they need to be, Esmont establishing the atmosphere without getting bogged down in detail. (A hallmark of a skilled writer.)
There are aspects of the story that could use a little more showing than telling, and a few blunt exclamations that read as unnatural, drawing the reader off the text. However, these blemishes are overshadowed by Esmont’s strengths.
All told, the effort can be considered a success. Recommended.
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Review written by W.J. Renehan