Review

Lights Out

by Jason Starr



Within a relatively short time, Jason Starr has become a supernova
among thriller literary lights, penning dark, gritty novels on his
own such as TWISTED CITY and collaborating with the equally
brilliant Ken Bruen on BUST. But LIGHTS OUT, Starr's latest novel,
is not so much a thriller as it is a dark, brooding character study
that falls somewhere between THE WANDERERS by Richard Price and
Dennis Lehane's MYSTIC RIVER.


Starr's narrative in LIGHTS OUT possesses an immediacy that
simultaneously unsettles and propels. Reading the book is like
walking aimlessly and slightly inebriated through a strange city
with the only certain knowledge being that each step takes you
further away from your hotel and closer to hostile territory. You
trust your guardian angel to protect you, even as you know it has
flown the coop long ago. So too in LIGHTS OUT; almost from the
first pages when we meet the romantic triangle of Ryan Rossetti,
Jake Thomas and Christina Mercado, it is obvious that things are
going to end badly, despite the good if misguided intentions of
some.


Jake is the conquering hero of the novel, the local boy who breaks
out of the lower working class Brooklyn neighborhood to become a
baseball superstar. LIGHTS OUT begins with Jake's triumphant return
to his old Brooklyn neighborhood for a weekend visit, one that he
is making more out of a sense of duty than desire. Jake enjoys the
trappings of his life --- the limos, the money, the fame, and most
of all, the women --- but he only reluctantly fulfills his
obligations to his fans, without whom none of the benefits would be
happening. Christina, Jake's erstwhile fiancée, is waiting,
but she has some news for him, an announcement she is hesitant to
give even as she welcomes the opportunity.


In Jake's absence Christina has become involved with Ryan, perhaps
the most complex character in the book. Ryan and Jake grew up
together and played on the same high school baseball team. More
competitors than friends, superstardom was predicted for both.
However, their lives took divergent paths; while Jake went on to
glory, Ryan labors in the old neighborhood as a housepainter in
sullen resentment over what has happened.


Ryan and Jake are badly flawed, in different ways, and they are
headed for a collision on the fateful Brooklyn weekend when Jake
comes home. Ryan thinks that Christine is going to break things off
with him, but he is planning to set a wedding date with Christine
--- not out of love, but as a career move. Christine, caught
between Jake's manipulation and Ryan's roiling resentment and
possessiveness, is a lit match about to be applied to a loaded
powder keg. Starr paints his scenes and characters in vivid,
startling colors, as he methodically lays out a scenario that is
almost certain to end badly for all.


LIGHTS OUT in many ways is Starr's finest work to date, one that
should give him the broader audience and recognition he has
deserved from the time he first set pen to paper. Highly
recommended.


   












Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 30, 2010

Lights Out
by Jason Starr

  • Publication Date: September 19, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 0312359721
  • ISBN-13: 9780312359720