If you have an itch to download “Hurst,” do so; you’ll be entertained and just perhaps a little engaged by the story, a genre-mashing mystery set in 2075 that feels part Medieval morality play / western show-down / futuristic attack of the cyborgs.
But if you have not yet read anything by Percy, my advice is you’d be better off downloading his first book, the short-story collection “Refresh, Refresh.” Percy’s first published work, especially the title story is an immensely accomplished tale of the bravado of a teenager in rural Oregon emailing as a way of coping with the absence of his father, who is fighting in Iraq.
Percy followed with the “Wilding,” another story set in the Pacific Northwest. This time, dealing with a backcountry camping trip involving father, son and grandfather and one supremely menacing brown bear.
After that Percy veered toward more dystopian themes and jumped on the wagon heaping full of vampires thirsting for blood. And depending on your preference, Percy’s style may be evolving in your direction more than mine.
I picked up “Hurst” because I wanted to check in on Percy and see where his literary bent is at present. The 48-page story moves forward step by step and hour by hour. There’s little time or effort put into character development; you’ll come across a surprise here and there and a denouement that you will have figured out a third of the way through. But it’s an easy read.
Hurst is a walled sanctuary, a commune-like colony isolated from a futuristic society. One of the outsiders -- he’s representing The Bureau – enters the gate to investigate a mysterious death. Stephen is his name; he’s helped by the enclave’s “deputy” in the search for reasons and answers hidden inside the closed society.
You'll probably be entertained but reading the story is like picking up an issue of “People.” It doesn’t leave you with much residual value when you’re done and there is not much left to stick in your memory. If you’ve got an hour to wind down, do so. “Hurst” is relaxation. And there is definitely something to say for relaxing once in awhile.
In a word or two: Rainy day read