Review: The Best of Evil
Written by Eric Wilson
Reviewed by Donald James Parker –
Ever try reading a book at an airport and then later on a plane? My average reading speed is usually about a page an hour in those situations. The distractions of people-watching, shuddering jets and people climbing over me to reach the restroom usually pry me away from the written word, causing me to spend half my reading time searching for the sentence that was half digested when my attention was diverted. I encountered no such problem with The Best of Evil. My eyes were riveted to the pages both on the way to my destination and on the way back on flights that seemed to end too soon. I arrived home at 5:30 AM after almost an all night journey. Before succumbing to sleep, I was compelled to return to this book to find out how this story ended. Like performing a successful gymnastic routine, “sticking the landing” is imperative for an author to receive high marks. Eric Wilson’s finale was flawless, leading me to the conclusion that this is one of the best books I’ve encountered in Christian fiction, perhaps even Best of Class.
Authors are often advised not to write in first person since the challenges are many. Wilson took on those challenges and ascended the slippery slope nicely. I really like first person POV (point of view) novels and think they offer readers an intimate look into a person’s life. That technique in this story allows us to get to know Aramis Black very well. He certainly is no choirboy, Eagle Scout type, but despite his rough edges, he is a character who attaches himself to a reader’s heart. A debate sometimes rages about whether a plot driven novel is better than a character driven one. Either can be good, so doesn’t it stand to reason that a combination of those two would present the best of both worlds? This story has combined those paradigms seamlessly.
I was once told by an acquaintance that she knew a person who could speak twelve languages but couldn’t say a thing of worth in any of them. I think some writers are like that. Their mechanics and manipulation of language is superb, but the value of the message they convey is of dubious worth. Like cotton candy, their prose possesses beauty but, in reality, contains no substance. In my opinion, Eric Wilson could never accurately be accused of producing cotton candy fiction. His penchant toward Proverbs type down-home philosophy and wisdom is never far from display. His insight into life and people is very evident. His style occasionally wanders from straight forward and concise to eloquent. His humor is low-key but very effective when employed. The salient nuggets of wisdom pass the fools-gold test.
I share this passage from The Best of Evil to give you an idea of the depth of Wilson’s writing:
She gave a cautious laugh – that of a bereaved mother trying to wear a strong face for her little ones. Some who lose loved ones never rediscover that spring of genuine mirth, while others lay their stories of grief in the water’s path, creating richer sounds of bubbling, gurgling life.
I believe the spring’s out there, a source of heavenly strength.
Each day, in my own fumbling way, I look for it. And I listen.
I’d venture to say that Eric Wilson’s The Best of Evil is a book that has plenty to say to you – if you’re prepared to listen.
About the reviewer: Donald James Parker is a novelist and computer programmer who resides in Crossville, Tennessee. Check out his website at www.donaldjamesparker.com?tcp