Parts North

Parts North

by Kevin Cohen

Ricki Brodie (08/13/13): I had the opportunity to meet Kevin Cohen and found out that he authored a book called Parts North. He likened it to a film noir. The book is dark, gritty, brooding and has protagonists on a course of self-destruction. Do not let that stop you from going on their journey. The main character is an ex-con safe-cracker who returns to a rural paper mill town in Maine where a strike has been going on for a year. He comes back to find his ex-wife remarried to an abusive union man and his son, whom he hasn’t seen in twenty years, who lost his arm in a car accident and his employment when he joined the strike.

The father, Quinton Deane, lost his job working with horses at a stable trying to earn a living. He makes a decision to cross the pick lines for the money and work at the mill recognizing that as a scab he will endure the abuse that comes with it. The son, Newland, meets his father and wants to understand him and learn why he abandoned him. Quinton tries to push him away recognizing that all his son has are the members of the union and if he allies with his father he will be ostracized for life. Newland wants to be accepted by his father and keeps trying to gain his approval much like a child who has suffered abuse. Eventually, they join forces on a path that spirals out of control.

There is tension from the town, the union men, the ex-wife, the new husband and Newland’s ex-girlfriend. The supporting characters are well-developed, realistic and make you feel as though you are in the midst of their lives. They provide an appreciation for the small town mentality. For example, two biddies “spent all morning spreading news they heard, then hung around in the afternoon to take pleasure in hearing the news repeated, as though they were watching the ripples in a pond where they just dropped stones.”

The novel, though dark, is compelling. I read it in 2 days. I wanted see how it would turn out in the end for father and son. It did not disappoint.
Rating:****

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