SILENT JOE

Written by T. Jefferson Parker

Review written by Calum MacLeod

Calum MacLeod is a reporter for the Inverness Courier and had been writing for SHOTS since its early days. In 2009 the Highland and Islands Media Awards' judging panel awarded him “Highly Commended Feature Writer of the Year”.


SILENT JOE
Harper Collins
RRP: £7.99
Released: 2nd January 2002
Pbk

Joe Torn is Silent Joe kA "Acid Baby". Horrifying disfigured by his father while just months old, he has been groomed by his adoptive father Will as a bodyguard, spy and leg man, the one man he can trust in the corrupt world of Californian politics in which Will operates.

 But it is not enough to save Will's life when father and son are ambushed in the act of recovering a kidnapped child and Will gunned down. Naturally Joe wants to have words with the man responsible, probably involving the twin .45s he always wears, but he also comes to terms with his own past and the secrets of his own identity.

The plot is Chandler-complex, mixing nasty billionaires, corrupt politicians and rival ethnic gangs in a Southern California that is no more honest than in Marlowe's day. But the standout attraction is the character of Joe himself. Closer to Chandler's ideal of the modern knight than a thousand second-hand imitators, Joe is quiet, chivalrous and overly polite, in compensation for his disfigured face.

True, there is an element of wish fulfilment - Joe woos and beds a beautiful radio host in spite of his half ruined face - but there is more depth to the character than just a bland seeker of revenge. Joe has his own insecurities and a blindness to Will's less scrupulous side that is nothing short of hero worship.

Highly recommended.

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