by Keith Hirshland
I feel like I have hit the trifecta. Third book in a row by an indie author which has knocked my socks off. Having grown up in the era when books were only published by a few companies, and authors were always the same, this new golden age of indie books is wondrous.
“Big Flies” by Keith Hirshland is a well-crafted, clever examination of one man’s past. Leland David is the son of famous travel writer, Chester David. With the loss of his final parent, Leland not only inherits a substantial portfolio, but he uncovers a mystery which makes him question everything he previously believed about his dad. Turns out, “travel writer” is a great cover if you need excuses for long absences, and a legitimate source of family income.
I initially struggled with the format of the novel. Hirshland writes the book using father and son to tell the story. This means, going from past (dad) to present (son) in every other chapter. I admit that at about chapter 3, not realizing the technique being used, I started the novel again because I hadn’t caught the time change. In the author’s defense, I’m still recovering from a brain injury and reading requires more effort for my brain than for most people. Once I understood the use of the titles “Those Days” “These Days”, I quickly adapted to the technique and had no further problem. In fact, I think Hirshland’s decision to tell the story this way is one of the best parts of “Big Flies.” The reader understood dad even better than son ever could since we saw his story from his perspective and in real time.
The second clever device the author used to draw us in was to combine factual history in his fictional piece. Since the prologue describes this, mention here is not a spoiler. Real life unsolved mysteries, including the world famous D.B. Cooper hijacking, play a central role in the life of “travel writer” Chester David. The plot focuses on son examining newly discovered mementos in a locked attic, while as readers we get to hear the first person narrative of their importance from dad. This technique kept me entertained and moved the story along in a quick manner. Despite the struggle I still have with reading, I finished this one in two days because I simply couldn’t stop.
This is Hirshland’s first work of fiction, and as a reader, I hope he continues.
STATE CHALLENGE: takes place in several places, but Nevada was home to a lot.