The Harder They Come is the latest from genius author T.C. Boyle. His fifteenth novel, it was published March 31, to rave reviews.
I have a love/hate relationship with this author's works, and this one I love. Multi layered, not a "pretty" book, a book that grabs you from the first page and makes you think as you work your way through the stories of the three damaged people at it's center.
The opening chapter tells the story of Sten, a retired high school principal and Vietnam veteran, on a cruise with his wife Carolee. At a port of call, Sten and Carolee are on an ill advised shore excursion into a remote area when they and the others are held up by local bandits. As fellow cruise mates watch, Sten's military training kicks in, and he subdues the attackers - cheers and applause, Sten is a hero, until they uneasily realize that he has crushed the attacker's windpipe, killing him.
The next character we meet is Sara, a fiercely independent Californian who makes her living as a farrier, tending to horses and other animals, cleaning their hooves and shoeing them. Sara lives, intentionally, off the grid of society, and swears no allegiance to the US of A and it's "big brother" insistence on intruding into people's lives, licensing and taxing them.
Our third main character is Adam, a young man with mental issues, and a propensity for violence.
These three story lines are braided together with mounting suspense, in a most skillful way.
Highly recommended. This will be a fascinating discussion for book groups that are not afraid of real issues.