Yesterday, I finished The Hunt Club, by Bret Lott, let it sit with me, let myself become an unbiased reviewer.
The book is written like that, The Hunt Club, that rhythm, using the commas where oftentimes you’d use periods, using you’d where most people would write you had. Bret Lott has his own style, and it takes some getting used to before you fall into the rhythm, but once you do, it almost becomes second nature, thinking like that, reading like that.
The book itself is about a fifteen year old boy, Huger (pronounced YOU-gee, which does take some getting use to), who acts as an aid to his blind Unc, Leland Dillard, who live lower class lives in Charleston, SC. This book is a murder mystery, a suspense novel, but more than that, it delves into the soul.
It is a bit slow at the beginning, as he takes perhaps a little more time to set up or describe Charleston than is necessary, but for the most part, Lott is successful in bringing together these details like in Sherlock Holmes mystery in a way that is satisfying for the reader. That is, even if the reader did not immediately pick up on their importance, it was evident by the end.
The subject matter are issues from which many authors would shirk away: race, faith, and social status.
Sometimes the writing was convoluted, so I had to read some parts multiple times to follow it. I can forgive this for the most part, because it related to the style he chose, and that’s fine–good, in fact. The Dillard families social status–lower class–is exemplified through the writing style Lott uses, reminiscent of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The writing sounds both educated and country. I grew up in the South, and it read just like many people would speak.
Huger’s relationship with race and faith is matter of fact, curious, not judging. Some of Huger and Unc’s main friends are Miss Dinah and her daughter, Dorcas, both black and Christian. Huger mentions often that they are black, but not in a condescending manner. However, the other members of the hunt club (minus Unc) are plain as day prejudice, using offensive language and insulting African American history. Huger is similar when it comes to faith, but his disinclination to believe somewhat biases his thoughts.
All in all, Lott writes about these, not from his viewpoint as many authors would, but the viewpoint of his character. He is not worried about acceptance, or being politically correct, but instead he writes the truth (from the viewpoint of his character). Refreshing.
On to the SPOILERS part of the review:
Huger learns that greed can be controlling, but more than that, that sin and love can exist all at once. His mother and father, no one, it seems, is innocent, and yet in many, save the bad guys of course, love abounds. The sin destroys his curious, unbiased nature, but the love brings it out again. Though I endeavor to explain this concept outside of the book, my attempt pales in comparison to Lott’s.
Aside from the “delving into the soul” aspects of the book, the plot itself was both predictable and refreshing. Lott himself essentially admits in the book that it is predictable, outright states it multiple times. Readers oftentimes desire creative endings, but the simplicity of it–greed as the sole motivation–is refreshing, and it allowed the focus to shift from plot, to the “delving” aspects.
Lott does a fantastic job of explaining the inexplicable–of showing, not telling, a basic concept in writing that is so often forgotten. This book accomplishes what it set out to accomplish; it’s not only a good, interesting read, but it is thought-provoking in multiple ways, addressing the issues of faith, race, social status, as well as the basic though ever-inscrutable concepts of love and sin.
Overall, I give this book a 3.8/5 stars, and I am considering reading its sequel, Dead Low Tide.