A perfect title for a stunning book. Its literal meaning is explained in the 1919 prologue, when a tree on which two men have been lynched falls deep into a sinkhole with the bodies still on it. The rest of the novel takes place in the present, or perhaps the not too distant future, when the land has been developed as an upscale subdivision for a rapidly growing city in the Midwest. But we are not quite there yet. In a second, slightly longer prologue, a woman goes to visit a convict on death row. It is a creepy, brilliant scene, although we know little of either of them, except that his name is Paul Krovik, and she regards him as a destroyer.
Patrick Flanery’s debut novel is a very interesting example of an overarching story that incorporates another “novel” or “memoir,” a journal and more embedded inside it. Set in post-apartheid South Africa Absolution is a thought provoking book, and engaging; not necessarily, or least of all, in the sense one would initially expect.