Bury My Heart at Redtree
Title: Bury My Heart at Redtree
Author: Patrick Chalfant
Patrick Chalfant weaves a tale that is a mixture of psychological suspense, Native American mysticism and revenge in his sophomore novel Bury My Heart at Redtree. Redtree follows Taylor, a promising young psychology student as he builds his masters thesis around the revenge he has planned for those who are responsible for his parent's death.
Taylor is aided in his vigilante justice by his friends Elijah and Keith and hunted by the local authorities, detectives Stan Jennings and Carol Parker of the State Bureau of Investigations. With a cast of a characters that also includes a na´ve, yet insightful girlfriend, a mystical and manipulative Native American chief and a business man with shady dealings that could put Kenneth Lay to shame, Bury my Heart at Redtree is entertaining, suspenseful and exciting, albeit a little predictable and underdeveloped.
Chalfant's use of Freudian psychology as a plot device is original and ingenious as Taylor uses his criminal spree as a means to prove his thesis regarding Freud's idea of the id, ego and superego. Also, the opening sequence of Redtree, a daring and bloody convenience store hit, is one of the best opening sequences of a novel I have ever read. And I must say Gayland, the resident wealthy business man and all out bad guy is a well written and deliciously evil, villain. You love to hate him and hope and pray that he gets what he deserves.
Redtree manages to be fresh and engaging in a genre that can easily be stale and unoriginal and that is all do to Chalfant's masterful storytelling and innovative use of the old themes of revenge and redemption.
However, Redtree does have some problems, the biggest of which is Chalfant's lack of character development. With so many characters you don't expect to be up close and personal with everyone but the main characters, particularly Taylor and Jennings should feel like close friends, or at the very least people you'd care about if something happened to them and that closeness just isn't there.
Chalfant doesn't offer much in the way of motivation or understanding for their behavior or their thoughts, so as a reader you don't have much stake in what happens to them good or bad. He does a great job at portraying Gayland as a corrupt and soulless man but lacks the same depth with the rest of the characters and that lack of depth ultimately hurts the story he's trying to tell.
Also the novel gets a little too preachy, as the subplot about a high profile drug case becomes the springboard for a rant on the criminal justice system and how with enough money and the right attorneys one can get away with anything. It is fine to feel passionate about a topic but not too many people like to be preached to and after awhile the rants about the justice system just felt like a combination of whining and preaching.
Despite these criticisms Bury My Heart at Redtree is worth your time and money. It's a good and fast read and while the surprise ending isn't really a surprise you'll still find it satisfying and fulfilling.
Tamika Johnson is a freelance writer and owner of PrologueReviews.com. To read more reviews by Tamika or to have your book, movie or film reviewed visit www.prologuereviews.com">http://www.prologuereviews.com
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Young People's Literature: Robin Benway, Far from the Tree
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