ECLIPSE OF THE HEART is Adam Adrian Crown's first novel. He definitely knows how to tell a good story. Though not my typical fare, I was drawn into ECLIPSE immediately, in spite of myself.
ECLIPSE is ostensibly a memoir, of sorts, written by the protagonist to reveal his past to a woman he has fallen in love with. It is more character-driven than plot driven,although two threads do pay off nicely, making this a work that lies somewhere in a no-man's-land between literary fiction and genre fiction
The protagonist, "Jack," breaks the typical hit-man/vigilante mold. He's not a cold-blooded psychopath. He's not the usual"ex-superman:" ex-Marine, ex-CIA, ex-Special Forces ex cetera, ex cetera, ex cetera. Yes, he was once a police officer, but he has no superpowers. He's just a regular guy. Most killers kill because they feel no empathy; Jack kills because he feels tremendous empathy.
In true picaresque style, ECLIPSE OF THE HEART is episodic in structure. Although the chapters are inter-related, most of them could easily stand alone as short stories. Several of them would make terrific movies. Although the protagonist has moments of loquacity, the style is generally terse, taut and edgy, like a good film noir. It is replete with profanity, violence and sex - but none of it gratuitous.
"Jack's" recollections wander. They aren't precisely chronological. He gets lost, goes off on tangents, and sometimes repeats himself. The effect is the creation of a character that is extraordinarily believable, and an account that feels very much like reading his uncensored, unedited diary. More than once I had to remind myself that this was a work of fiction.
The author does not tie up all the loose ends at the conclusion, and leaves an important question unanswered, left for us to contemplate. Maybe there's a sequel in the offing.
From moment to moment, ECLIPSE OF THE HEART is in turn poignant, funny, disturbing, gentle, violent, ugly and beautiful. It is a powerful and compelling read.
-- Laura Souris