Falling Back to One
by Randy Mason
Archer/Rare Bird

"He polished off the bottle, lay down on the bed, and closed his eyes. If they never opened again, it was all the same to him."

This first-rate novel unfolds linearly while taking revealing side roads along the way. The more you read, the more you learn—and the more you want to know. The location is New York City in the 1970’s. Baker, a tough detective, is in a jam. The only way out is to agree to serve as guardian for a juvenile offender. He agrees, then learns the juvenile is a girl. Micki is a seventeen-year-old hellion. She takes drugs, robs people at knifepoint, and curses like a sailor. Plus she has no discipline and even less self-respect. But she comes by it honestly. Her whole life is one long succession of anger, fear, lies, betrayal, and innumerable doses of mental and physical abuse.

When the cop and delinquent get together, sparks fly. He’s authoritarian. She’s incorrigible. Way too often, he uses one fist for discipline and the other for holding a whiskey glass. Much too frequently, she lashes out violently—not just at others, but at herself as well. Both are fighting demons within themselves that have only become more menacing year after year. As one’s career and the other’s life hang in the balance, it becomes a question of whether their relationship will ignite a turnaround or only hasten each other’s demise?

Mason writes honestly. She doesn’t shirk from the hard truths each principal is forced to confront. Her style of grainy reportage, accented with occasional lyricism, delivers emotion that never seems forced or false. Plus she captures the milieu of time and place well. Best of all, she creates characters you care about in a story that holds your interest from beginning to end.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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