I DON’T LIKE WHERE THIS IS GO­ING

Crime Scene - - POST MORTEM - BY JOHN DUFRESNE

Be­tween its la­tex masks, Google glasses, Kafka im­per­son­ators and “Pok­er­tox” ref­er­ences (bo­tox for poker play­ers), John Dufresne’s sec­ond Wylie “Coy­ote” Melville novel taps keenly into ideas of per­cep­tion and de­cep­tion. Set amid a city of glit­ter­ing dis­trac­tions, in this largely Ve­gas-based fol­low-up to 2013’s No Re­grets Coy­ote equips Dufresne’s ap­petite for di­gres­sive prose with pur­pose: every plot trib­u­tary, vivid de­tail and colour­ful sup­port char­ac­ter gets vig­or­ously in­te­grated into his sur­real, scathing snap­shot of a na­tion’s self-de­ceit.

He’s got the per­fect lead for this in Wylie, a scathing, sharp-wit­ted but se­cretly em­pa­thetic South Florida ther­a­pist and foren­sic con­sul­tant ex­pe­ri­enced in teas­ing out nar­ra­tives from sur­face clues. Lay­ing low in Ve­gas with his ma­gi­cian (sleight of hand – it’s vi­tal here) pal Bay af­ter gang­ster trou­ble, Wylie has a tough job of it as he in­ves­ti­gates a seem­ing sui­cide – and en­coun­ters only ag­gres­sive cover-ups.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion me­an­ders, but its sense of drift fol­lows Dufresne’s the­matic cur­rents of dis­trac­tion and de­nial. And as a morally out­raged tale of hu­man traf­fick­ing, ad­dic­tion, pros­ti­tu­tion and home­less­ness grad­u­ally emerges from un­der the slick sur­face, pace and ten­sion tighten up ac­cord­ingly. In other words, don’t let dif­fuse first im­pres­sions dis­tract: Dufresne’s deep, dark, fre­quently daz­zling satire of Amer­i­can cor­rup­tion has a lot up its sleeve.

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