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Reading Nick Crowe's debut novel, A Cold Night for Alligators, is a little like being in a bar after midnight, six beers in, sitting at a table with a stranger who has just beaten you at darts and leans in to tell you a tall tale. At first the story seems so bizarre you want to giggle or turn away, but the man is staring you down, looking you right in the eye while he tells you a story that is either crazy or bone chilling--but you're a little too drunk to figure out which--until finally he finishes and you're left wondering what the hell just happened.
The novel certainly has elements of a quirky, even crazy, tale that would make it seem like a dark comedy. The main character, Jasper, wakes up from a seven-month coma after being pushed in front of a Toronto subway train, only to embark on a road trip to the Florida everglades in search of his long lost mentally ill brother, Coleman. But Nick Crowe holds steady, not allowing the bizarre story to veer too far into the comedic, though it is dark at times. It's like Heart of Darkness but
with characters named Skeeter and Rolly and way more alligators.
Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley.com. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.