Friday, July 10, 2015

Dragonfly by John Farris (from 1996)

The fact that John Farris doesn't garner more appreciation in the realm of literature is an unforgivable crime in my humble opinion.  Farris is a superb author with a gift for crafting compelling stories and yanking the rug out from under his readers on a consistent basis that is nothing short of awe-inspiring.  No one is better at springing a massive twist upon readers; Farris frequently delivers jarring shocks in a most casual fashion, totally reshaping the narrative at hand with a subtle shift that is impossible to predict.  At a certain point, I had read enough of his books to know that the twist was coming, yet he almost always managed to take me by surprise at some point.  With this in mind, it's a bit of a surprise that Dragonfly is one of my favorite offerings from this captivating artist, as it is relatively straightforward.  Now, that doesn't mean that it lacks intrigue or that it doesn't offer up a plethora of thrills, but it surely isn't among his most startling books.  Yet it is gripping from start to finish and it boasts some fine characters and a seductive plot.  Essentially, Dragonfly is about a con man whose latest scheme places him squarely of the midst of an even bigger con.  He also develops genuine affection for his mark, and soon he must choose between the girl or the scam.  This is a tough decision to make, for he's really choosing between an easy score and putting his ass on the line to save someone who probably won't be all that fond of him should his criminal past come to light.  Again, it's a far cry from this author's most wildly inventive works, but it's so damn solid.  The prose is rich and inviting and there are several incredible setpieces that are truly magnificent.  There is one sequence near the end where our hero (who has been drugged) most survive an assault from a professional killer during a tropical storm that ranks among my favorites from Farris.  In closing, I strongly recommend any of this author's books to those who many not have experienced his writing, and I'm placing Dragonfly at the very top of my list so far as thrillers are concerned.

Final Grade: A+

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