Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Five

The Five by Robert McCammon
Subterranean Press, 2011
Hardcover, 518 pages
ISBN-13: 9781596063419
very highly recommended

The Five tells the story of an eponymous rock band struggling to survive on the margins of the music business. As they move through the American Southwest on what might be their final tour together, the band members come to the attention of a damaged Iraq war veteran, and their lives are changed forever.

The narrative that follows is a riveting account of violence, terror, and pursuit set against a credible, immensely detailed rock and roll backdrop. It is also a moving meditation on loyalty and friendship, on the nature and importance of families those we are born into and those we create for ourselves and on the redemptive power of the creative spirit. Written with wit, elegance, and passionate conviction, The Five lays claim to new imaginative territory, and reaffirms McCammon's position as one of the finest, most unpredictable storytellers of our time.

My Thoughts:
I've been looking forward to reading The Five by Robert McCammon and I wasn't disappointed. The Five  is a thriller that celebrates McCammon's love of music and includes in the mix an element of the supernatural along with the suspense. The Five are a struggling rock band following a brutal schedule playing at small venues during what will likely be their last tour together when an unstable veteran decides that their video is an insult to veterans and the members of the band must be killed. The murders will also serve as an example to prove his worth to anyone who wants to hire an assassin.
Before they knew they were being stalked and the first member of the band is shot, the members of The Five decide to write one last song together before they split up. Once the first attack happens, the importance of everything this last song symbolizes takes on a life of its own.
The Five is McCammon's ode to musicians everywhere. It is a study of human nature, the dark and light side of faith, and destiny. While the band members continue to follow their passion for making music and performing, they are also forced to display endurance, courage, and camaraderie as they continue on their tour schedule while working with the authorities to catch the killer.
The many readers who wanted another supernatural novel from McCammon (Swan Song, Boy's Life) may be somewhat satisfied with The Five even though it is not quit like his previous novels. Everyone should be able to readily concede that McCammon is a great writer and he deftly handles the development of both the plot and characters with ease. It should also be noted that at the end of the novel McCammon includes a long list of bands and musicians to whom he is dedicating The Five.
Very Highly Recommended

Nomad decided he would have to kill the waitress.
How he would do it, he didn’t know. But it would have to be done soon, because in another minute he was going to go off like that dude in The Thing whose alien blood bubbled and shrieked under the touch of a hot wire. His neck was going to grow six feet long and spikes would shoot out of his arms before he tore the room apart. The waitress was cheerful and talky. Nomad hated cheerful and talky. He wasn’t a particularly good guy, nor a very bad one. He was a musician.
Besides, he wasn’t worth a damn before noon, and here he was at ten in the morning sitting in a booth at a Denny’s restaurant just off I-35 at Round Rock, about twenty miles north of Austin. Everything was too bright for him in here. opening

“What’s your name? Your band’s name, I mean?”
“The Five,” Ariel said.
There was just the briefest of pauses, and then Laurie wrinkled her brow and cocked her head to one side as if she’d missed part of that. “The five what?”
“Aces,” Mike mumbled, into his coffee cup.
“A**es,” Berke corrected.
But Laurie’s attention was still on Ariel, as if she knew Ariel was probably the only person in this group who wouldn’t steer her into a ditch.
“Just The Five,” Ariel said. “We wanted to keep it easy to remember.” pg. 11

“One thing I’d like to ask, if I could. Then I’ll leave you guys alone. I’ve seen…like…musicians on stage do this.” She transferred the coffee pot to her left hand, balled up her right fist and did the heart thump and then the peace sign. “What’s that mean?”
Nomad studied her through his dark glasses. She was probably five or six years younger than she looked. It was the hard Texas sun that aged the skin so much. She was probably a little dense, too. Happy with her lot in life, and dense. Maybe you had to be a little dense to be truly happy. Or oblivious enough to think you were. He couldn’t help himself; he said, “Bullsh*t.”
“Pardon?” Laurie asked.
“It means,” Ariel said evenly, “solidarity with the audience. You know. We love you, and we wish you peace.”
“Like I said: Bullsh*t.” Nomad ignored Ariel, who likewise ignored him, and then he swigged down the rest of his coffee. “I’m done.” He slid out of the booth, put a buck down on the table, and walked out of the Denny’s into the hot sunshine.  pg. 13

Everybody got a birthday celebration, that was part of the deal. Not a written deal, but one that was understood. Just as on stage, everybody got their time. Their appreciation, for what they did. That was an important thing, Nomad thought; to feel appreciated, like you meant something in the world and your life and work wasn’t just like a big busted-up truck spinning its tires in a mudhole. Like what you did mattered to somebody. pg. 14

Because hat was the sharpest thorn in this tangled bush where the roses always seemed so close and yet so hard to reach, and everybody in the Scumbucket knew it. How long did you give your life to the dream, before it took your life? pg. 22

And Nomad realized he would mourn this death, maybe more than any other. When I was running on all cylinders, The Five was tight and clean and everybody had their space. Everybody had their job to do, and they did it like professionals. They did it with pride. And thought the life was tough and the money not much to speak of, the gigs could lift you up. There was nothing like being in the groove, like feeling the energy of the audience and the heat of the lights and the pure electric heart of the moment. It was so real. pg. 31

A hit man could make a lot of money these days. But first he would have to show any potential employers how good he was at the job. It wasn't as if he didn't have enough experience already.
That band...with their lies...they shouldn't be allowed to spread their poison. pg. 85

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