Copyright © 2016, Steven E. Houchin. All rights reserved.
This suspense novel by William
employs a story technique I used in my first
novel, Linear Descent, that I think of as the "character spiral." If
you consider a spiral shape, such as a galaxy in space, it consists of numerous
far-flung entities circling a center point, all drawn toward the center. At
some point, they swirl inward and converge at that center, crashing together.
In a character spiral, the entities are a cast of characters separated by
distance, time, or unfamiliarity (i.e. strangers).
In The Nomination, the main characters are out at the edge of the
spiral, living separated lives, with only tangential relationship. The center
point, or the inciting incident in novelist terms, is the impending retirement of
a Supreme Court justice. The president wants to appoint Massachusetts judge
Thomas Larrigan, who is considered a Vietnam War hero with a squeaky-clean
record. But Larrigan has a secret past: during the war, he abandoned a child
bride and a gave away their baby for adoption. He connects with an old Marine
pal, Eddie, who knows all about it. Eddie's old girlfriend knows, too, and
Larrigan sends him down to Florida to take care of her.
In New York, that former child bride, Simone, is now a dying woman who agrees
to let a ghostwriter tell her story. She'd had a brief acting career in the
1980s, becoming a cult celebrity before retiring due to her illness. She has
the documents from her past, and a just-arrived package of photos sent to her
by Eddie's girlfriend, who has been spooked by his sudden appearance in
Out in California, former police detective Jesse Church fears for her life
after sending a mob boss to jail. After her picture appears in the paper, she
goes on the run, but not before receiving a letter from Simone who believes
Jesse to be her birth-daughter. So, Jesse heads for New York, thinking the
mob hit-men won't find her there.
Writer Mac Cassidy gets the job to ghostwrite Simone's biography. He meets
her and leaves behind a tape recorder that she'll use to dictate the story. She has no
idea Thomas Larrigan is a judge and that he's been nominated for the high
court. But, Eddie has found out about her from his long-ago girlfriend.
And so the characters spiral in toward one another, and the reader anticipates
the impending crash that will happen when they meet. Mac has the tapes and
photos, Eddie wants to silence Simone and get the photos (unaware of the book
project), and Jesse wants to meet her mother and hide out, and the mob is on her trail.
The reader has an
inkling about what will happen, yet the outcome isn't exactly as expected. All
in all, The Nomination is well worth the read. The hardcover is about
300 pages, so not too long.