Quill and Quire


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by Dennis E. Bolen

It takes a lot longer to get this dark novel out of your mind than it does to read it. Another in Bolen’s series about Vancouver parole officer Barry Delta, the book is a discordant symphony of violence and depravity in a world ordinary people do not see.
In fiction, parole officers are most often portrayed as street-wise do-gooders existing in limbo between law enforcement and the criminal underworld. In real life – who knows? This is an area of law enforcement that seldom appears in news stories. Parole boards, yes, in sensational cases of released criminals reoffending. But the bureaucrats who carry out the parole boards’ instructions remain largely in the shadows.
And if Bolen’s portrayal of the work and the individuals involved is accurate, this is just as well. A public prone to hysterics over real or imagined crime waves would not be comforted by the images his work evokes. Judging from his words, as many psychotics and social misfits work as parole officers as are to be found among the ranks of the criminal underclass.
In Krekshuns, Barry Delta wades through the muck and filth, stubbornly clinging to a few illusions. Most of his charges are confirmed sickos, just marking time until he blows the whistle and they go back to jail. But the stress-ridden hero cannot remain above the fray. He stretches the rules for his charges and most repay him with treachery, landing him in trouble with superiors and the law he is supposed to uphold.
It’s entirely in keeping with the book’s dark theme that the only scenes approaching wholesomeness or beauty are in a few fleeting moments when Delta, a chronic womanizer, is declaring his love for an ex-prostitute on his client list who is dying of AIDS.
There is no particular plot to this novel; rather, it’s a series of encounters involving the central character. Bolen is preoccupied with depictions of violence, with the obnoxious odours of the streets and the filthy living conditions Delta encounters, and with death scenes. A chronological depiction of the rotting body of a junkie who overdoses and whose remains are not discovered for about three weeks is – well – memorable, though repulsive in the extreme.
Krekshuns is a gritty, gruesome package with some vivid writing, but it’s not for the squeamish.


Reviewer: Verne Clemence

Publisher: Random House


Price: $18.95

Page Count: 248 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 0-394-22466-3

Released: Jan.

Issue Date: 1997-2

Categories: Fiction: Novels