What would The Joker be like as a senior citizen?

Back in March I posted this to Twitter:

It’s definitely a job perk to have the chance to read great novels well in advance of their publication but then comes the pain… waaaiiiiiiiting to tell everyone about it.

9781443425636This week Kim Zupan’s The Ploughmen finally arrives for all to enjoy. And enjoy it you will. Some are calling this a contemporary western and others have compared it to Cormac McCarthy and, while both comparisons are apt, I’d say it’s simply a story about two human beings sitting alone in the dark. And one of them is a ruthless killer (one so expert in his brutality and precision) is only now, in his seventies, behind bars.

John Gload is the worst of the worse. The kind of killer who leaves no trace. A mystery, an enigma—an individual casting an even more terrifying shadow for his lack of remorse. He is The Joker as a senior citizen (man, I’d love to see Jack Nicholson play John Gload in the film version!) And yet, Gload befriends the young deputy keeping a watchful eye over him, Valentine Millimaki.

Valentine is a new cop, though a very smart one. As he struggles with the pressures of his life in police work, his marriage is crumbling and really, who best to be your relationship confidant than a 71-year-old killer who may or may not have killed his wife?

The Ploughmen is a thriller, so tightly wound with tension that the reader can’t help but turn the page with equal parts excitement and…caution. The book takes it’s time building the intimacy between John and Valentine but as the revelations unspool–as John’s history becomes clearer–the reader understands what we knew all along: this relationship, like many others will not end well. But for who?

You’ll have to read The Ploughmen to find out. Trust me, the book accomplishes something truly terrific in forcing the reader to confront their own perceptions.

– Cory
Follow me on Twitter @corybeatty

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