Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Person of Interest

Recently widowed, Felicia Fontenot has moved back into her childhood home in order to care for her elderly mother and she finds that not much has changed in the old neighborhood. Her mother’s neighbors are older than she remembers them but they are still keenly aware of what is happening on their street. Felicia is quick to notice one change, however - her first serious boyfriend, Luther Jackson, now lives with his wife and little boy directly across the street from her mother.

One morning, soon after her arrival, Felicia looks out her bedroom window to discover that the Jackson house has become a crime scene. Luther, out all night, has come home to find the badly burned bodies of his wife and son. Someone has murdered them, and it soon becomes obvious that Luther is the most logical suspect. Felicia refuses to believe that the man she loved so many years before could have had anything to do with the brutal murders of his own family and, when Luther’s aunt asks for her help, she decides to do whatever she can.

As the official investigation proceeds, and things begin to look worse and worse for him, Luther refuses to offer more than a minimal defense for himself. Felicia, puzzled by Luther’s silence, but still determined to prove his innocence, is dismayed to find that everything her own private investigator turns up makes it seem more likely that Luther is guilty of the murders.

Ernest Hill uses alternating chapters from the points-of-view of Felicia and Luther to tell his story, rarely bringing the two of them into contact with each other. In fact, Luther, who seems almost determined to sabotage his own defense, is just barely aware of the time and money Felicia is spending on his behalf. Felicia, ever the optimist, is as determined to save Luther as he seems determined to doom himself.

And that leads to my problem with the novel. I cannot decide if Luther Jackson is one of the most unlikable characters I have encountered lately or if he is just one of the most unbelievable. I think, actually, that he is a bit of both. His passiveness in the face of all that has happened to him is irritating; his refusal to defend himself in order to hide a personal secret (a rather common one) is not believable. Throw its way over the top melodramatic ending and stereotypical characters into the mix and A Person of Interest becomes a major disappointment despite its promising early chapters.

Rated at: 2.0

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