Adam Sternbergh’s debut novel, Shovel Ready, tells the story of Spademan a “garbage man” in a destroyed, future New York. The blurb on the book compares the characters to a lot of well known literary figures, but I think the best comparison is a combination of Dexter and Robert Neville from I Am Legend – please note I am referring to the actual Richard Matheson novel, not the debacle of a Will Smith movie.
Spademan is a garbage man who takes out human garbage. He can explain it better than I, so here’s a short quote from the book:
What if I told you I only kill serial killers?
It’s not true, but what if I told you that?
Now what if I told you I only kill child molesters? Or rapists? Or people who really deserve it?
Okay, now what if I told you I only kill people who talk loudly in movie theatres? Or block the escalator? Of cut you off in traffic?
Don’t answer. Think it over.
Not so self-righteous now.
I’m just kidding.
There’s no such thing as movie theatres anymore.
He is an unapologetic killer for hire who has one rule: he doesn’t kill children. So what could this be but the story of a job where he is basically asked to kill a child. Spademan is given unexpected depth through this moral quandary and a tragic backstory with his wife Stella. There is also a very colorful supporting cast in the form of the knife wielding runaway Grace and the fallen preacher Mark. Throw in a weird virtual world people plug in to – think Surrogates – and an evil cult leader and you’ve got a pretty interesting book.
It’s not my usual choice, I got a signed ARC, but it’s another very enjoyable, quick read. If you like a story about a main character that’s a killer (I don’t judge), then this is a must read.