This book is built around the premise that any one of us can think we are making a good decision only to later find out the depths of how bad that decision actually was. Llewelyn Moss chose to take a suitcase full of money from a drug deal gone bad, thinking he would never get caught…and it all goes downhill from there.
This was my first Cormac McCarthy book, suggested by a friend who well knows my penchant for Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style.” Commas are a rare breed, and quotation marks were extinct long before this book was written. Even so, the author’s style is fairly easy to understand, and the story drives this book anyhow. The down-home conversations reveal a lot about the characters, and the interludes with Sheriff Bell (where it seems as if he is speaking directly to us) tell us everything we want to know about the man, and more.
Mr. McCarthy balances multiple characters, allowing each to share the main stage and have their moment to shine as the book races to an unexpected climax. The plot examines motivations, particularly why different people make different decisions and the underlying currents that cause or force them to continue, right or wrong, to embrace whatever path was chosen. These moments are very revealing, and it is interesting to view each character’s interpretation of what is ethical behavior. This is not a speed read. The author’s style arm-twists us into slowing down, and for that I am grateful. Five stars.