When crime is rampant and justice is soft, someone is liable to fill the vacuum. It’s happened many times in history. It happened in The Long Shooters, which I reviewed recently. And it happens again in Nik Morton’s suspenseful A Sudden Vengeance Waits.
Sudden Vengeance is an exciting novel with a statement or two to make. The uncaring criminal marauding sans remorse is only part of the picture. Victims and perpetrators alike are created by economic hardship of the kind brought upon us by this latest recession, and the book abounds with examples. Thus is the village vigilante in Sudden Vengeance spawned not only by an unbalanced court/prosecution system, but by social forces
beyond the control of the 99% who suffer from them. Through it all, there’s no doubt the vigilante’s victims get their just deserts, but plenty of doubt as to whether those just deserts are truly just. And that’s what makes this book somewhat more than a fluffy adventure fit for a plane trip.
In its structure, reading this novel is a bit like watching a TV series devoted to the depredations of criminals in the community. It’s built in short episodes, all of them taking place in the South British town of Alverbank. Many of the episodes include characters important to the story, which is sturdy and suitably suspenseful, but many characters make only cameo appearances or appear only clips from the local newspaper. All however, involve some incident of crime or injustice and retribution for same. Thus, Sudden Vengeance has a singular unity of theme as well as of action, and whatever page you “tune in to” you know you’re going to find something to deplore or sympathize with. Or some philosophical conundrum to ponder.
I found it both diverting and thought-provoking and thank Mr. Morton for this glimpse into modern English life, which in many ways reflect conditions far beyond those shores.