Book Review: The Good Father, Noah Hawley

| 10 October , 2012 | Reply

He bought the gun in Long Beach, at a pawn shop called Lucky’s. It was a Trojan 9-mm. This is from the police report.

The beginning three pages of The Good Father by Noah Hawley set up the chilling and curious details of a wayward boy, the crime he committed and a father confounded by the facts. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, admittedly not one they consider too often, is how could they have raised a murderer? This is the question Dr Paul Allen asks himself throughout the novel. Appearing at his door one night of the house his second wife and young children live, two agents announce that his first son Danny has been arrested for assassinating a senator.

Already this is a gripping plot. Details of the crime are told second hand which gives the effect of whirlwind and incomprehensible situation. There is no gruesome detail, no action-movie recount. Dr Allen is asked to deal with an impossible truth, portraying him as the sweet, dumbfounded family man and as a result is incredibly easy to sympathise with. The rest of the book is a delve into the history of his son, their relationship before and after the divorce, his personality, school performance and significantly his journey across the country in an old yellow Honda. Cropping up in the midst of Danny’s idyllic American roadtrip, an uncanny Into The Wild journey, is his father’s question – How can I not know my own son?

Noah Hawley has written an excellent novel. The perspective of the father is not one too often used and is entirely touching. The assassination, in reality an extremely rare event, is convincing. It helps that there are several chapters interspersed retelling the stories behind America’s famous political assassinations. These add a believable layer to the novel, as though the Allens’ story is another tacked on to the country’s unfortunate gun crime.

If you don’t feel like reading about assassinations, pick up The Good Father for its beautiful depictions of American countryside and characters. Every person father and son encounter are quirky, humble and bring to life what is essentially a book about a murder.

Available now:  Hachette RRP$29.99


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