One of the main genres I like to read is crime fiction. So when this book by Michael Cordell, whose previous book, Contempt, I read last year, crossed my path from a publisher, I happily agreed to read it, too.
But Our Trespasses extends the crime genre into a supernatural thriller. Matthew Davis, a young cook in New York, collapses at work for no apparent reason. But Matt has a twin brother, Jake, whom he has not seen in years. They’ve always had a close connection. Their level of empathy extends to an inexplicable bond which, from a young age, has allowed each to feel the pain of the other. When Matt collapses at work, he believes that there has been a tragedy involving his brother, and he immediately leaves to head back to his hometown, Hatchett, in Nebraska, to find out what has happened.
But Matt’s concern for his brother will involve other problems beyond simply what has happened to him. Matt has neither been back home for years, nor has he seen his mother or friends in that time. So when he returns home to find that his brother has been murdered, he is nevertheless faced with the animosity and indifference of those he has left behind. As Matt delves into the murder of his brother, he finds that the brother he thought he knew and the town he grew up in are not the same as they once were. His mother is far from welcoming, telling him that he left his brother and her with no support. Somehow, he is to blame. He meets up with Claire, the girlfriend he left without a word years ago when he left Hatchett, and Andy, a former mate who has become the town priest, both of whom are sarcastic about him moving to the ‘big smoke’. And on top of this, Matt is pained to realise that his twin brother, Jake, with whom he’d always had a close connection in earlier life, was far from a pleasant character. He had crossed many people in the town. Now, the close psychic connection Matt had with Jake from childhood starts to become life threatening as Jake’s demons begin to live through him, instead. Matt is in pain and he’s scared.
Our Trespasses is a supernatural thriller which delves into subjects that could be either unsettling or risible in the wrong hands. But Cordell is a skilled writer of popular fiction who is capable of drawing his reader in to accept the basis of his reality. This story of a connection beyond the grave extends a commonly held tenet – that twins have a special connection – to weave a story that piques the reader’s curiosity, is tense, and deals with the problem of the shadow of the past on our present circumstances.
With Claire and Andy’s help, Matt realises he not only wishes to discover the identity of his brother’s murderer, but that he must delve into his brother’s past, to find out who his brother has hurt and what he has done, and somehow try to make reparation in order that he can free Jake from Hell, and thereby cut the connection with his brother once and for all. Will he be able to achieve it and what more will he learn about Hatchett and the people in it in the process? And what more will he learn about his twin brother and indeed, himself?
I must confess that when I received this book I knew absolutely nothing about it. The title sounded a bit religious – an extract from The Lord’s Prayer – but that didn’t strike me as the tone this book would take, based upon my reading of Cordell’s Contempt. I had no idea it had paranormal/ supernatural themes, something which I wouldn’t normally read. However, it was certainly a page turner: I never knew exactly where it was heading and therefore it had me hooked, line and sinker, until the very end. In addition to this book being a great novel to enjoy, I think, in fact, it would also translate very well to a movie, something which I am very used to seeing with paranormal themes. I wonder if this is something Michael Cordell actually had in mind, since he teaches screenwriting and produces and directs movies for the big screen. In fact, I don’t think I have read anything this good for some time. As this is only Cordell’s second fiction book, I think we can expect many more great reads from him in the future. I thoroughly recommend Our Trespasses.