Sometimes I just never know what to expect from a book. It can be a great, or good, or not so good read. Usually, I at least know the genre of it. Not so with Negative Space, by Mike Robinson (Amazon link, $4.99 for the Kindle edition). Let me state at the outset that this is a good read.
Negative Space is not science fiction or horror, nor ‘literary fiction.’ I like my reviews to be as helpful as possible so let’s call this an intriguing mix of mystery, a dash of supranatural (yes it is, too, a word; look it up!) and a splash of that nameless category of self-discovery.
Negative space is a term in the artistic world referring to the space surrounding the objects in a painting or photograph. When that space is empty, it can produce a silhouette. The main protagonist of this story, Max Higgins, is a silhouette; other than his creepy (but successful) artwork, there is nothing and no one around him. At 28-years-old he’s still a virgin and rather anti-social, due no doubt to the disappearance of his father when he was seven-years-old, followed quickly by the murder of his mother.
Karen Eisenlord is another, slightly less broken result of what turns out to be the same missing father, just from a different family a few years later. Together, she and a rather incompetent private-eye shanghai Max into a voyage to learn the whereabouts of the serial-disappearing father.
It’s a painful journey, but slowly the negative space surrounding both of them begins to shrink and finally, particularly in Max’s case, the ugly past gets left behind. The explosive near-end to the novel demonstrates what happens when Max finally starts caring about what is going on around him.
There’s a hauntingly poetic quality to Mike Robinson’s writing. I mean that in a positive sense. Indeed, he reminds me of J.G. Ballard in many ways. I intend to keep my eye on Robinson as this work and his writing style show great promise.
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