Savage Lane – Jason Starr
When recently divorced Karen moves with her two kids into a nice suburb of New York she finds peace and joy for the first time in years. But unbeknown to Karen, her neighbour Mark, unhappy in his own marriage, has been living a fantasy life with her in the centre – a fantasy life that becomes a full-blown obsession.
My thanks to No Exit Press for my review copy
Savage Lane can almost be considered a peek behind the curtains into the lives of some of the families living in suburban New York. The focus is Karen, a divorcee with two kids – she is friendly with Mark but Mark is obsessed with Karen. Mark mistakes Karen’s friendship for something more and seems to be under the impression that Karen is looking to begin a relationship with him, giving Mark the chance to be free from his often-drunk and unloving wife Debs.
Debs, meanwhile, is keeping her own secrets from Mark. Yes she is drinking to excess – something causing her children concern (if not her husband), however Debs is having an affair of her own with a much younger man who will not take ‘no’ for an answer and is not happy when an increasingly guilty Debs suggests that their relationship should come to an end.
As you may guess, Savage Lane pitches these individuals together and focusses on their secrets and their fantasies and exploits the fragile nature of their relationships. These are unhappy and vulnerable people and it is a compelling read seeing how their neurosis and naivety makes them act in the most unexpected of ways. The supporting cast of characters are equally complex and unpredictable all of which makes for an entertaining read. Without drawing on spoilers – one character’s obsessive nature leads to a shocking loss of control and the implications on the other families featured in Savage Lane is significant and life changing. Jason Starr does a great job of making his dysfunctional families come to life and I genuinely felt that in some cases their irrational and obscure behaviours were leading to them getting the payback they deserved.
The strapline for the book is ‘Everyone has a secret’ in Savage Lane they certainly do and some are deadly.
I really enjoyed reading Savage Lane. It was quite dark in places and the characters all seem to be missing a degree of self control or the ability to rationalise their actions but this made for a great story so I was happy to accept they were all flawed.
When I was offered the opportunity to join the Savage Lane blog tour I was thrilled to be offered the chance to take part. Particularly as I knew Jason Starr is also a writer of comic books. Jason has worked on iconic titles such as Wolverine and Punisher. As I have been a fan of comic books for many years I was keen to ask Jason his thoughts on their place in the literary world – this is his response to my question:
Do comic books and Graphic Novels get the recognition they deserve?
Comics and graphic novels have a huge, growing audience around the world, so they certainly have the respect of readers. Some comics have crossed over and gained so-called “literary” respect, but I’m not sure if that has gone much beyond Maus, Watchmen, and Neil Gaiman’s work. I think there is a common misconception among readers who don’t read comics that comics are just for teenage boys. I think these people are missing out on sensational storytelling going on in comics right now–in mainstream superhero titles, and especially in indie comics. I think part of the challenge the comic industry has in reaching this readership is in how to overcome the “intimidation factor” of comics. If you’ve never read comics, or haven’t read them since you were kid, the comics section at bookstores can seem quite foreboding–I don’t think people know where to start. But I suggest asking for recommendations because there really is some great stuff out there.
My thanks to Jason and to Harriett at No Exit Press
Savage Lane is published by No Exit Press and is available in paperback and digital formats now.