The Reconstructionist, Paperback Book

The Reconstructionist Paperback

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


At a loose end after college, Ellis Barstow drifts back to his hometown and takes a job as a reconstructionist - investigating and recreating the details of fatal car accidents.

Ellis forms a bond with his boss John Boggs, who believes that if two cars meeting at an intersection can be called an accident, then anything can - where we live, what we do, even who we fall in love with.

For Ellis these things are certainly no accident and he harbours two secrets of his own.

The car crash that killed his half-brother is a memory that still haunts him, and his feelings for John's wife threaten to blow apart the men's lives.

As Ellis tries to make sense of his own life, the story's momentum builds to a desperate race towards confrontation, reconciliation and survival.


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I enjoyed the start of this book. The initial entry to the characters and the work of forensically examining car accidents was well written, interesting and intriguing as well as absurd. The writing is poetic and the use of car accidents as a existential device was clever, but the effect this had on me was to hold me at arms length from the characters, and as there are only really three this narrowed the book considerably as it went on. Even before the crisis that is engineered by one of the characters, albeit with some unintended results, you felt these people were unbelievably fractured and despite the events that unfold, untethered from consequence. At least the male characters had their forensic engineering to captivate and ground them; Heather was almost entirely written as someone drowning in her own ennui and was more projected onto by the men rather than existing in her own right. Indeed as the crisis escalates she is left wrapped in her own emotions whilst they pursue their own quest through the madness of their breakdown, until she, one again, becomes part of that quest. The richness of this book comes in the gaps, in figuring out the emotional physics that results in the accident of these three people coming together and analysing the damage inflicted on them. My interest in doing this ran out of road before the ending of the book, but it was a dreamy ride to nowhere whilst it lasted.

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