Joe Grant, een jonge Amerikaan, maakt met zijn vrouw en zesjarig dochtertje een vakantiekampeertocht. ’s Nachts worden ze op een door bossen omgeven autosnelweg door drie mannen overvallen. Als Joe zich verzet, wordt hij bewusteloos geslagen. Uren later komt hij bij en ontdekt dat zijn vrouw en dochertje uit de auto zijn gesleurd en op afschuwelijke wijze zijn aangerand en vermoord.
Hoewel de politie de drie daders weet te vinden, kan zij hen bij gebrek aan overtuigend bewijs niet arresteren. Blind van haat besluit Joe het recht in eigen hand te nemen. Maar de zeer menselijke politiefunctionaris vermoedt zijn wraakgevoelens en laat zijn gangen nagaan. Hoe de bittere strijd tussen Joe Grant en het moordenaarstrio enerzijds en de inspanningen van de politie aflopen, vertelt Buell u op ongeëvenaard spannende wijze.
Nedrelandse Boekenclub – Den Haag / Antwerpen – 238 paginas
Oorspronkelijke titel: The Shrewsdale Exit
Vertaling: P. A. Zandstra
Born in Montreal, he was educated at the Université de Montréal, where he received a Ph.D. with a thesis on form and craft in Shakespeare. He is Professor Emeritus of the Communication Studies faculty at the Loyola campus of Concordia University. The author of five suspense novels of unusual skill, he is often misunderstood as a purely ‘escapist’ writer of thrillers and crime novels. He is really somewhere between Graham Greene and Raymond Chandler in his mode, for his central theme is the mystery of good and evil in a decaying world. In his first novel, The pyx (1959), filmed by Harvey Hart in 1973, the vulnerability and self-knowledge of Elizabeth Lucy, a high-class call girl and drug addict, operate as counterpoints to the destructive Montreal underworld—especially the demonic setting of Keerson’s Black Mass rituals. Although not entirely successful, this slim work skilfully blends Eliabeth’s outer world of action and her inner world of dream, nightmare, and illusion. Elizabeth despairs of the ‘huge nothingness of evil confronting her’, and, without benediction, she falls victim to Keerson’s criminal agents. In Four days (1962), ostensibly a chronicle of a young boy’s fatal idealization of his criminal elder brother, reality is so perverted that life ultimately becomes an ambush. The tension in this book is far less contrived than that in The pyx, and the pacing is as expert as the probing of the young protagonist’s innocence and paranoia.
Buell’s most disciplined novels are The Shrewsdale exit (1972), Playground (1976), and A lot to make up for (1990). In the first, the theme of unachieved retribution is worked out with relentless clarity as Joe Grant fails to obtain revenge against three motorcycle thugs who have murdered his wife and young daughter. Playground is an interior drama of a man trapped in a wilderness after a plane-crash. Buell tells this slow-moving, single-character story without mythicizing his protagonist or slipping into a philosophic essay on survival. A lot to make up for is quietly unspectacular, and is in the tradition of George Simenon as it follows two young people in trouble. Stan Hagan, once addicted to drugs and booze, turns up in Ashton, a small Canadian town, looking for Adele Symons, who has taken their baby girl (born addicted) and left him in order to make a new life for herself. Stan has a lot to make up for, and so has Adele, who is victimized anew in the town where she seeks refuge; but with the help of some benevolent townspeople the two find absolution for their past errors and a new direction for themselves.