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AFTERMATH, Brian Shawver's debut novel, is the story of a tragic
event, its impact on two very different people, and the search to
find the truth behind the tragedy.

Casey Fielder is the manager of "O'Ruddy's," a chain restaurant
located in the blue-collar town of East Breed, Pennsylvania. Casey
takes pride in his work, is very methodical and timely, and feels
that he is the perfect man for the job. One night, as he and a
co-worker look on, two groups of teenage boys begin to fight
outside the restaurant's parking lot, and the result is the
horrific injury to one boy, Colin Chase, and his near-death
experience because Casey did not act fast enough to call the
police. Casey believes he did things by the book, and AFTERMATH
traces his thought processes as he tries to justify why he didn't
do what everyone else says he should have done to save that boy
from the beating he received.

Casey and his co-worker Jenny are fired and the restaurant closes,
but Casey cannot let this event go. He doesn't feel that he should
be blamed for his inaction, but at the same time his gut tells him
that something bigger was at play that night. So he spends a lot of
time doing detective work, attempting to figure out what really
happened. He also tries justifying why he didn't make a call to the
police, and he finds himself telling his version of what really
took place outside the restaurant to anyone who asks him over and
over. Casey recalls that Jenny told him the phones were out of
order, but at the time the police originally questioned him, he
neglected to tell this part of the story. Thus, the newspapers
painted Casey as a man who did not have the common decency to help
out a kid who was being beaten to death, let alone try to stop a
fight between two rival groups of teenage boys. Casey's life is
changed forever because of the stigma that is now associated with
him and the beating of Colin Chase.

In the meantime, Lea Chase, Colin's mother, is trying to deal with
her "new" son. Colin's injuries have left him brain-damaged, and
his IQ is now that of a four-year-old. Colin was once the "man on
campus" and was the best looking, the most athletic, and had the
most girlfriends. But there is another side to this, and Lea knows
that she needs to find out why these boys tried to kill her son.
She can't believe that there isn't a justifiable motive behind it.
Just like Casey, she feels that there was pre-meditation behind the
rumble at O'Ruddy's, and she does her own detective work to
discover the truth.

What she finds out is something any mother wouldn't want to know
about her son, and the more she learns, the more she believes that
Colin, in his current situation, is a much better person than he
ever was before his brain injury. While Geoffrey, Colin's father,
adjusts easily to the new Colin, Lea does not, and she tries to
reconcile this new son with the boy he used to be, a very disturbed
and angry man who, she soon finds out, was a bully and a tormentor
of almost everyone he knew.

AFTERMATH is a different kind of tale. While a traditional story
would try to evoke sympathy for Colin, Shawver does quite the
opposite. And while Colin could have been the focus, he really is
only a secondary character. The book is foremost about Lea and
Casey, and how their lives have changed as a result of the beating
that Colin took that ill-fated night. I found this novel refreshing
because of its different approach to character study.

This is definitely an auspicious start to what I hope will be a
long and critically successful career for Brian Shawver. AFTERMATH
most likely will appear on my list of favorite books for


Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton on December 22, 2010

by Brian Shawver

  • Publication Date: March 13, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor
  • ISBN-10: 140007987X
  • ISBN-13: 9781400079872