Last Monday I read “Firetok”, a suspense novel by Gordon A. Wilson; a story flooded and permeated with pure horror. The opening scene warns you that the book is going to be dark. When violence comes into play, I will normally shut a book and move on, since I suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome: However, I couldn’t put this book down.
I’m glad I kept reading.
I quickly discovered that the hero, Douglass, also most likely suffers from PTSD. Douglass is saved from a dismal, powerless life and death by the Old Man and the book’s main avatar, Firetok; a huge, white dog. Together, they root out evil and act to mete out justice or salvation on quite a few people.
The horror is at times unspeakable; emphasized rather than diminished by the sparse, distanced narration of the worst scenes. In spite of the darkness, however, “Firetok” is a story about redemption. Douglass, the Old Man and Firetok respond to evil with clear-sighted integrity and courage. There are plot twists and decisions that keep you on the edge of your seat, agonizing over the outcome.
Gordon A. Wilson draws his characters vividly. He sets the mood in a fashion that seriously rivals Stephen King, and as I said in an Amazon.com review, the book also feels like Tony Hillerman meets “Fargo”: Not that Gordon A. Wilson is in the least derivative of anyone. His voice is distinct and unique, and I think we are seeing the birth of a major new novelist (the book is already an Amazon best seller).
But the book has haunted me since Monday.
I’ve been asking myself, how could I, with my background, read such a dark story and feel released by it?
A Matter of Trust
I have finally figured out the answers. Number one, I trusted Douglass, the Old Man and Firetok. I knew they would get me through the horror and out the other side; and I was not wrong. Number two, Firetok himself.
A dog can lead you places no human can force you or entice you to go.
Let me explain. Some years ago, I was leaving the hospital, having been given devastating news by a specialist. In true Scottish fashion, I held it together and took the news calmly. Leaving the hospital in my wheelchair, I came across a big, black labrador with a red kerchief on its neck. I don’t normally pet strange dogs without asking, but for some reason, I impulsively reached over and patted its great head, and his owner was kind enough to stop and indulge me.
The instant I touched the dog, the tears spilled over. I was embarrassed and ashamed, and apologized. The woman was very kind. She handed me a tissue, and told me to take all the time I wanted, patting her dog. “He’s a therapy dog,” she explained. “That’s his job: He helps people release emotions they need to release.”
And that was what Firetok was for me, last Monday; my own personal therapy dog. I was clutching his blood-soaked fur as I navigated the dark horrors of the world Douglass was trying to dig his way out of.
That’s just one layer of “Firetok”. Who knows what layer you will uncover, if you decide to read it. At the very least, it’s a superbly exciting novel that will keep you riveted all the way through.
Can’t wait for your next book, Gordon A. Wilson.