Hawk Mountain by Conner Habib is an odd read, not quite a thriller, not quite murder-mystery. Perhaps a suspense, but no, not quite that either. I’ll call it an interesting and perhaps even an intriguing read. Certainly a recommended one.
Divorced from his wife, Todd has been parenting his now 5-year-old son, Anthony since shortly after birth. She is in Italy or maybe somewhere in the US but has resurfaced and been contacting Todd, discussing a way back into Anthony’s life. Todd recently moved to a new town, where Anthony is starting school and Todd is beginning a new teaching assignment. He certainly is not interested in the added disruption to his and his son’s life of his ex-wife’s reappearance.
While walking along the beach with Anthony one evening, Todd recognizes Jack, last seen about 15 years ago in high school, when and where they did not get along. Indeed, Todd’s memories of high school are not good and Jack was a factor in that. Jack invites himself to dinner with Todd and then weasels his way into staying the night at Todd’s house – new in the town, nowhere to stay, no one to stay with… you know.
As uncomfortable as the situation is, the memories of Jack at high school are even more discomforting. Jack stays longer and continues to push himself into Todd’s and Anthony’s life, including answering a call from Todd’s ex-wife in which he tells her that Todd is now living with his boyfriend. Not just does this give her more reason to become aggressively intent on becoming Anthony’s active mother, it gives Todd reason to tell Jack to leave. Jack reveals he is gay and makes an advance on Todd, they fight and Todd beats Jack to death. Over the next few weeks Todd hastily creates a girlfriend relationship with Anthony’s teacher to show his ex-wife that he is not gay, and he gruesomely and methodically disposes of Jack’s body, piece by piece and over several weeks, into the sea.
Yes, I hear you… what an odd combination of plot threads… sexuality issues, high school bullying issues, divorced spouse/parent and oh yes, a gruesome murder clean–up as well. And I’m not at all sure they work together.
The book is well-written, the plot trots along at an interest-holding pace and the characters all feel genuine and either likeable or not, as the story requires. The book is certainly not a ‘murder and who did it?’ because the murder is less central to the story than many other elements and anyway, we know who did it. At times it felt like a coming of age book, but via memory. And then it ended. What I mean is, I was expecting more of an ending.