I really enjoy reading Ray Thomas’s short stories of the vigilante Douglas Gage. It is clear that Ray enjoys his storytelling and the experience he’s giving the reader. The narration is told in the first person and his style is often to take a short detour and engage the reader directly by asking, “Did I mention I have muscles and I’m smart?” The comic interaction is directed at the reader as much as the dialogue between characters. This isn’t overplayed where it interferes with the story and its moments are well selected. The general theme of the novel is action-packed, crime driven and full of violence but you can’t help reading it with a half smirk.
In this novella, Gage has been asked to look into the suicide of Carrie, the daughter of Leo and Grace Hudson. Their belief is that Carrie was the focus of a sustained campaign of bullying that caused her to hang herself and not just another teenage suicide statistic. Those suspected, Palmer, Sally and Dale, are totally remorseless and sociopathic. The father of Palmer has huge influence and with his own band of bodyguards or enforcers has the ability to make problems disappear. This area of bullying on social media really resonates in the world we live in today. It’s a tough issue and while this book isn’t about any detailed analysis, it does push the problem into the public view and we should not forget the consequences to young people who feel targeted and isolated.
Gage can fight, as he often says he looks like “… the Rock’s ugly brother” but in a more believable fashion he doesn’t always win, and when he gets caught he gets truly pummelled. He often makes mistakes and holds his hands up, which encourages us to root for him and feel concern. He is, however, a smart-talking and fortunate person that manages to at least stay alive after these encounters, which many of his opponents don’t.
Of the books, so far in this series this feel the most complete but could still have benefited from running a bit longer to show more interaction with the father that had his army of goons. A showdown with the father would have been interesting. What I do like about Ray’s novels is that come to the climactic point in the plot, it’s finished, and he’s not hanging around waffling about some irrelevant piece of background not knowing how to conclude.
I would like to thank Ray Thomas for providing me with a copy of The Statistic in return for an honest review. 4.5 stars