There is an obvious reason why Nick Crowe has been labelled the “New Face of Fiction” by Random House. His first novel “A Cold Night for Alligators” is a wonderful fictional/mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time you’re reading it. I read a great review by @janetsomerville on her blog, Reading for the Joy of It that made me want to put this book at the top of my pile.
The story starts off in Toronto, Ontario where 26 year old Jasper is on route home to his love less relationship. All of a sudden he is pushed in front off an on coming subway – please note that this is one of my top 10 worst fears. Miraculously, he survives after being in a coma for 6 months. When he comes back to the land of the living, he finds out that his girlfriend has moved on with a new man named Donny and both of them are living in his home. There is little resentment, because Jasper was no longer in love with his girlfriend so the three easily share a home with one another.
The night of Jasper’s birthday, he receives a phone call where he hears someone breathing on the other end of the line with the sounds of a highway in the background. He holds out hope that it is his brother Coleman, who was always a bit disturbed and a little off. 10 years prior, Jasper watched as his brother opened up the latch in their backyard and walked away from their family never to be heard from again.
Jasper, Coleman and family always spent summers and vacations in Florida where they visited their Aunt Val and her husband Rolly Lee. Rolly Lee is anything less than immature, but Jasper always liked to visit and travel on the I-75 on route to a world of fun and alligators. Coleman was fearless when it came to alligators, the woods and anything else that might scare 10 year old boys. He was one of kind. However, drama is sometimes inevitable with curious young boys and the events of what happened one summer caused their family to stop visiting Florida. All contact with Jasper’s Aunt and Uncle was shattered and lost immediately. Jasper always held out hope that when Coleman disappeared that he headed south to Florida where they always felt at home. After receiving the phone call on his birthday, Jasper is even more hopeful that he’ll be able to find his brother 10 years after his disappearance in the sunny state of Flordia.
When Donny invites Jasper along on his annual fishing trip with his “crazy” friend Duane, he decides he wants to find his brother and Florida is the first place he wants to start looking. On route, he keeps having flashbacks of times when he and Coleman were children where Jasper’s father explained that Coleman was “different”. His flashbacks are common throughout the story and it gives us a real sense of who Coleman is and what he might be like as an adult.
The search for Coleman really takes off when the three men arrive in Florida and Jasper reunites with his Aunt Val and Rolly Lee. We’re brought into a mystery that makes you, the reader, just as anxious to find out why Coleman left and where he could possibly be. Jasper’s search leads him down lots of different avenues, in this quote, he’s working with a homeless man that he bribes with liquor to provide some insight:
Now I was limping hard, sweating through my shirt, trying to keep up with a drunk homeless man I’d spent the afternoon enabling, all for information he probably didn’t have. I couldn’t help but think that all the tiny steps I was making were leading me towards a dead end. Still, if I wasn’t moving up in the world, I was at the very least making life more interesting for myself. It sure beat sitting at a desk all day.
I’m not a big fan of mysteries, because I like to have a sense of who’s who and what’s what, but when it comes to “A Cold Night for Alligators” I easily jumped into mystery mode and wanted to find Coleman just as much as Jasper wanted to find his brother. I promise you that this book will be one you won’t want to be put down. Nick Crowe is a great new voice and I think he’s got a knack for writing literature that is enticing and heartwarming.