Monday, June 13, 2011

Just One More Question...

The Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price:

Eyewitness to two killings, fourteen-year-old Gabriel James relates the shocking story behind the murders in a police interrogation interspersed with flashbacks. Step by step, this Montana teenager traces his discovery of a link between a troubled classmate's disturbing home life and an outbreak of local crime. In the process, however, Gabriel becomes increasingly confused about his own culpability for the explosive events that have unfolded.

Summary from Amazon.

Cults, murder, drugs, hate crimes: there’s a lot going on behind the scenes of Billings, Montana, and Gabriel James has (unintentionally) seen it all. What begins as an interest in a girl in his class leads to two dead boys and Gabriel sitting in an interrogation room. Was he involved or did the wrong choices leave him as the not-so-innocent bystander?

I picked up The Interrogation of Gabriel James because a review called indicated it was the Usual Suspects of Young Adult fiction. If by The Usual Suspects, they meant a story framed by the interactions in the interrogation room, then yes. But let’s be clear, Gabriel ain’t no Keyser Söze. As someone who likes to believe that Kevin Spacey unconsciously drags his foot whenever anyone references Keyser Söze, I can see how someone going into this story with that in mind could be disappointed. Not only is Gabriel not a criminal mastermind, he’s not even an unreliable narrator. Sure, he has his ramblings, but their the ramblings of a teenager who’s nervous. He’s distracted by the girls in his life and wanting to be better at cross country – not giving hidden meaning to picking beans in Guatemala.

Got it?

Good, now you’ll enjoy the story without that expectation. Gabriel is a rather aimless teenage boy who, in trying to do a good thing, makes everything a lot worse. He’s seen too many procedurals and this increases his nervousness with the cops (much like I imagine I would be in the same situation). This true-to-life teenage boy mentality and nervous mental state combined with the interrogation room set up make for a story that jumps back in forth from the present and the past events that led up to the deaths.

It’s a rather windy path, but worth it. Charlie Price has created a very accessible character in Gabriel, one who genuinely wants to do the right thing. His motivations, horniness, aimlessness and curiosity all ring true. This kid is the teenage everyman. To that everyman’s plot we throw in a cult who believed in share and share alike when it came to their partners, murders, and multiple personalities.

The crimes in Billings might start out with the occasional missing pet and recreational drug user, but things escalate until Gabriel and the reader are desperate to put together the clues.

The Interrogation of Gabriel James will appeal to reluctant readers who want a fast-paced story to keep them interested. While the interrogation scenes toward the end strained my sense of believe, I can see why someone not in the Keyser Söze state of mind wouldn’t question the situation. The story will leave readers with the answers they need and the ability to feel their legs. The same cannot be said for some of the characters in the book, however.

You can purchase The Interrogation of Gabriel James at these fine retailers: Powells, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Your Local Indie, or you can pick it up at your local library.

Book Source: this place down the street that lets you just take books. For free! All you need is a card. No interrogations necessary.

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