on 16 December 2011
I really have no idea what some of the reviewers mean when they refer to the voyeuristic nature of the writing. The style adopted ensures that the horrific things that happen are viewed in a very objective way and are in no way exploitative. And quite where the 'hard sex' features I have no idea.
Essentially, this is a really well constructed novel in the trailer trash noir genre. The writing is concise, telling the story of one man's descent into his own personal hell as a result of one (very tragic) error.
Similarities with the excellent Daniel Woodrell( who writes in the same genre and wrote the foreword of this edition)will be rightly drawn. The book really warrants a wide audience-yes it deals with a very hard and difficult series of events, but it does so in a way that enables the story to take front stage(as it should) rather than exploiting the violent incidents to their full.
The reader is left with a sense of inevitability and great sadness and a feeling that we are all the victims of the trail of outcomes from a single event-for the same theme in less extreme circumstances try 'The Slap' or 'Eleven'. This holds up very well by comparison with both.
Mulholland continue to go from strength to strength as this release proves. Whilst a well-known US classic, this title is one that many in the UK may not have heard of let alone read, yet when you pick it up, it's a novel that will remain with you long after the final page has been turned.
It has a great lead character, inner turmoil and of course a whole host of dilemma's that the character has to figure his way out of as he tries to cleanse his own conscience. Add to this some wonderfully descriptive prose, cracking pace and a hint of Lady Macbeth about the whole piece leaves this chilling story working its way through the reader's imagination longer than a cold winter's night. A must read.
on 30 November 1998
The story is cheap, but is reasonally well written. It titilates with hard sex and sometimes unbelievable violence. There is no heart and soul in this, no resonation. By the end you feel sleezy, like you've been reading Hustler. Empty, vulgar thrills.
on 11 August 2013
Hunter John Moon goes out of his trailer in the morning to hunt. He illegally kills deers, each time risking getting caught. John's father has lost the farm at the time because of the banking collapse, and John has enough problems of his own. He does not stay long at any work, his wife left him, taking with her their son. Since money is always tight, and free meat is good.
John shoots a deer from a distance, and then long pursues a wounded animal. When he hears the bushes rustle, he shoots. The deer appears from the other side, Moon shoots it, too. Going to the bushes, where he first heard a rustle, John finds the body of a young girl he accidentally killed. Exploring the place of illegally camp, he also finds a bag of money and a lot of drugs. After searching the body, John reads the note written by the killed girl, in which she writes about her boyfriend, with whom she head over heels in love. John hides the body in a cave, takes the money and the carcass of a deer and drags all of it to the trailer. Moon wants to use the money to bring back his wife and a child. Later, John realizes that the money belongs to a couple of farmers, whose house a few years ago was robbed, and they were both brutally murdered. Conscience and the people who owned the bag with money begin to pursue John Moon.
«A Single Shot» is what is now called the rural noir. The novel story is indeed close to noir, first of all because it is about good people doing bad things. John Moon is an honest, but a broken hero. He is «a good-looking guy ..., gentle and with a good sense of humor». Life was not fair to him, but he has no inner core, to resist to the end and did not succumb to temptations. He takes the stolen money (stealing already stolen), but for the benefit of the family. He kills the girl, but it was an accident. Moon is visited by the idea to go to the police and confess, to explain the situation, but here healso lacks confidence. He has several prior convictions, and who would believe him? Who would believe a poacher, an unemployed, who took the stolen money? John is not the only one in the novel, who came under the influence of money or a bad company.
«A Single Shot» is a greater story, where all are the details. And Matthew F. Jones catches in his style the importance of detailes. But what distinguishes this book and makes it extraordinary, it's attitude towards death. Deprivation of human life is not just another everyday event, it can break a man (which is why this novel was compared to "Crime and Punishment"). Murder deprives sleep, exhausts, causes burning with fever. Conscience like a tumor eats away the brain, the heart is accelerated, then almost stops, and lungs are filled with molten lead. The dead girl even after death will not leave John alone, not only her soul but the body will haunt the accident killer. And the payback is not such that you will expect.
"A Single Shot" hits the bull's-eye.
on 29 July 1997
The reader may not like the world of pathos and failure that he/she is pulled into, but it is hard to deny the raw power of this novel. Jones is skilled at painting the scenes and emotions of rural backwoods country so that the most isolated city slickers feel that they are right there. We are shown the full scope of everything that John Moon is thinking, and the ultimate lesson for the reader may be that common emotions links us as humans despite our different environments. As an aside, it is very hard to put this book down.
on 29 December 1997
This is a taut, economical little thriller well worth the short time it'll take you to read it. John Moon is a compelling character with many flaws, and it's a it's a gripping ride through the story with him. I'm not normally a mystery reader, but this reads more like a novel than a genre mystery -- spare prose, as simple and beautiful and frightening as the wooded country where the story is set. And the ending does not disappoint.
on 26 January 1998
I fell into the trap of judging a book by its cover, and was sorely disappointed. Twice, I threw the book across the room, disgusted. Twice, I picked it back up and continued to read, morbidly fascinated. It was like rubbernecking at a terrible car accident, not wanting to see the devastation but not able to drag your glance away....With a stronger stomach, I am sure I could have appreciated the quality of the author's writing. However, I mainly found myself repulsed by the book's content. Strictly personal. I'll hang on to it and give it another read someday to see if I was wrong.
on 28 July 1999
I can't believe I hadn't heard of this author before a friend convinced me to read A SINGLE SHOT. The book is a masterpiece, one of those rare novels that stays in your head weeks after you've finished it. I put it down while reading it only to occasionally remind myself that what was happening in it wasn't happening in fact or to marvel at Jones's incredible ability to create taut scenes and real characters. I actually read the book twice and liked it even more the second time. This book, and author, I predict, will be read for years to come. Mr. Jones, more please!
on 25 January 1999
Teeters between taut writing (though there's a definite limit to the present tense, and this novel far exceeds it) and the pornography of voyeuristic violence. In the end, gratuitous & peripheral episodes show it to be in the category of the latter, not the former.