Lawrence C. Connolly, Illustrated by Star E. Olson
Trade Paper, 248 pages, $15.00
Review by Sheila Merritt
The supernatural plays an important part in Lawrence C. Connolly’s novel Veins. There is Native American mysticism, and a mythic thread running through the book. These elements are not, however, horrific. The scariest parts of the work deal with all too human characters, whose backgrounds dictate their lethal actions. These characters, who are armed to the teeth, often respond in a kneejerk manner. They could even give the NRA the willies. Author Connolly utilizes them as a contrast to the wisdom and spirituality of Native American culture.
The premise is simple: A carefully planned heist goes awry. Those involved all have their agendas, egos, and back stories. None are noble, most are unlikeable, but they each have a destiny. Some will be transformed literally or figuratively. Many will perish. Their venal, volatile voyage leaves a trail of transgressions and transcendence.
For Axle, the protagonist who is confronted by his ancestral past, the journey comes full circle. He accepts the job driving the heist car for monetary reasons. His focus is limited by a need just to get by in the world. All that changes when he starts to comprehend how dangerous his cohorts can be. There are consequences to every action, and Axle recalls the teachings of the great grandmother who raised him.
As Axle alters in character, his senses become more acute and visionary: “Shadows shifted within the patterns, resolving into shapes and he plunged. A patch of gray became a rocky clearing. A shimmer of blue became a stream. A pulsing shadow became an owl flying low over the rim of the mine. The entire landscape was in motion, changing, reworking, pulsing in an endless process of becoming.”
With such expert imagery, Lawrence C. Connolly takes a reader on a different kind of magical mystery tour. It is not, horror per se. It isn’t simply a story about a thwarted crime. Nor is it merely a study of a motley group of characters whose ethics and morals leave much to be desired. It is about what drives people to extremes, and how destiny ultimately intervenes.