On the surface, Trio of Lost Souls is a simple story. Bill Vincent, a prize-winning journalist and leather-clad biker, exacts revenge on three men who inflicted horrible violence upon his wife Claire. The novel begins with a stark description of Vincent bludgeoning these three men to death, and then speeding away on his Black Shadow. From there, he hits the road, wandering from town to town, drinking and picking up odd jobs and meeting interesting characters.
Back to the part about this being a simple story. The Kerouac-esque vibe of the narrative is both familiarly satisfying and oddly foreign, and I often stopped to re-read passages of description for the sheer pleasure of the language and attention to detail. Remick knows California, its people and landscapes the way, for instance, Jim Harrison knows Montana, or Ron Rash knows the Appalachian Mountains. Like all good road novels, there is a very strong sense of place, and as I turned pages, I came to know California, began to experience it through the eyes of Bill Vincent. Which brings me to another aspect I particularly enjoyed: the protagonist. In the hands of a lesser writer, Vincent could have easily come across as a caricature, but he doesn’t, and that is a testament to Remick’s powers as a novelist. Through some type of alchemy that most writers simply do not possess, Remick manages to portray Bill Vincent as an often-talked-about-but-rarely-realized well-rounded character, and I think he achieves this, partially, with another skill a lot of writers don’t have: restraint. Adhering closely to Hemingway’s iceberg principle of character development, the reader sees only a small portion of who and what Bill Vincent is, and the rest is left up to the imagination. That takes trust and active participation by the reader, two things I prize highly of any writer, especially a novelist. To put a coda on Bill Vincent, I think what really drew me in was how Vincent, who is essentially a decent man, started off by running from the police, but ends up running on instinct. Although Vincent clearly loves his wife Claire, and he deeply regrets that he had to kill those men, he is, at heart, a seeker. Perhaps I’m projecting myself onto the page, but I do believe there is a small part of every man who secretly wonders if he would be up to the challenge of meting out justice for the woman he loves. And, of course, many men often fantasize about hitting the road and living off one’s wit.
Bottom line, the still waters of Trio of Lost Souls run deep. If you’re a fan of Jim Harrison, Ron Rash, or even Cormac McCarthy this book is definitely worth a read. Recommended.
Acknowledgment: I was given a free copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.