Jason Michel’s unique writing speciality is the character on the verge of mental meltdown. In his latest novella, The Death Of Three Colours, Jonah is a man existing at the brittle edge of rapidly disintegrating economic and cultural system. His interactions with the rest of humanity consist almost entirely of an allegiance to a tightly-knit group of petty criminals, drug dealers, and their associated wives and girlfriends. The normally independent Jonah, who has enough existential angst to fuel an entire John Paul Sartre novel, becomes drawn into the groups’ ambitious new plans to expand their drugs empire internationally using the internet, from the relative comfort of the run down pub where they all, regularly meet.
Jonah is a closet internet entrepreneur, who can envisage a somewhat frightening future with new currencies on the Dark Web, and his skills prove to be invaluable to the business. With his help, the band of the disparate petty criminals can foresee a future in which their careers are about to progress to the big time. Unfortunately, given their ages, average intelligence level, and the clashing of overblown male egos, this isn’t necessarily a good thing.
As mentioned earlier, Michel’s characters are never entirely, psychologically sound. Jonah’s psyche is fragmented and he wrestles daily with his wicked alter ego Milton, whom he is barely able to control. Milton is a violent, vicious, misogynist and the nearest this guy is ever going to get to paradise is in the acts of fulfilling his own monstrous needs.
Don’t be fooled into believing that this is a simplistic Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde type of situation, as Jonah/Milton is fully aware of his psychological condition – so, don’t expect a shocking reveal moment of the type found in Fight Club. At times Milton can be useful, and Jonah is prepared to acknowledge this, although the idea of dependence on the caged monster inside of his head fills him with shame.
Jonah is no angel either, when he is not dabbling in the Dark Web his world is ruled by his two overriding obsessions. The first of which, and predictably male, is sex, but his character has matured enough by now, to welcome a relationship into which he can ‘share his inner world’, without the need of painful medical intervention. So along comes Sally and he is looking pretty set. Unfortunately Sally has enough historical baggage to comprise everything he has been working towards: is she a dangerous femme fatale?
His second obsession is of the mystical goddess variety. No, he isn’t trying to upgrade his girlfriend; this Mexican folklore saint literally rules his world. Not only does he worship her but he fantasizes about sleeping with her too. (I know, I know, typical male behaviour). But the scene in which this happens is far from ordinary as Jonah is seeking sexual perfection in the form of a transcendent, ethereal and orgasmic state in which he can reside forever. That might not seem too shabby for a year or two, you might think, even if his chosen goddess is skeletal and not traditionally attractive by most peoples standards –But a word to the wise – passion between the gods, saints and humans rarely ends well and Santa Muerte, also known as the goddess of death, is a demanding and vengeful mistress…
I don’t often do book reviews, and this one is the first on my site, so why now and why this particular novella, you may be wondering? I chose this book as it a terrific read! I loved the dark, poetic prose, the Mexican mythology (or alternate religion), and the exciting plot with plenty of twists and turns, with characters I could emotionally invest in. Best of all though, was the cruel undercurrent of deliciously dark humor that runs stealthily all of the way through it.
This is a crime / horror novel and I must in all conscience include a mild warning for potential, psychologically unsound and emotionally unstable readers – prolonged reading usage may cause addiction, and in recommending this book, I am not prepared to take on any personal responsibility for that situation… You can read The Death Of Three Colours by Jason Michel, entirely your own risk! Links below…
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