Although live television shows 20-year-old Daniel Allen shooting presidential frontrunner Jay Seagram, his father, Paul, grasps at straws and devotes the next year trying to prove Daniel’s innocence. Paul’s second wife and family suffer from this obsession, and he’s told, “You need to accept that this wasn’t your fault. That your son is lost to you.” Perhaps Paul attempts to overcompensate for not being in Daniel’s life by trying to stop the execution of a convicted killer. He tries to rewrite family history by focusing on its positive aspects.
"Paul’s first-person narration counters Daniel’s third-person account. Mirrors reflect many views, and THE GOOD FATHER shines with its recitation of historical facts."
An astute physician, Paul analyzes past assassinations. “And yet if Sirhan Sirhan was standing in front of Kennedy, how did he shoot him three times in the back?” Paul is convinced that his son is involved in a conspiracy and is the fall guy. He blames himself for Daniel’s actions: “I had been a bad father, selfish, neglectful. I had sacrificed my son for my career.” After Paul’s failed first marriage, Daniel became “a boy who, instead of inheriting two homes, found himself with none.”
Paul’s first-person narration counters Daniel’s third-person account. Mirrors reflect many views, and THE GOOD FATHER shines with its recitation of historical facts. Influences in Daniel’s life are analyzed from the myriad views of people he meets after dropping out of school and wandering across the country, which led him to meet Paul’s presumed conspirators in the assassination. This dark and brooding novel is likely to keep replaying in readers’ minds. The question begs: What would you do if you were Paul?
Noah Hawley wrote and produced the hit TV series “Bones.” The screenwriter and producer lives in Texas with his family. Following A CONSPIRACY OF TALL MEN, his emotionally charged fourth novel about unconditional love challenges many premises: gun control laws, the importance of financial success over family values, and the ability to accept the inevitable.
Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on April 6, 2012