Finished March 6
Drink Dirt Eat Stone by Kyle Fleishman
This novel is a dark thriller. As the book opens, Tristan Stonehouse is walking out of Stony Mountain Penitentiary in Manitoba after fourteen years in prison. We learn that Tristan was formerly a hitman for the Northern Syndicate and a hero in the Gulf War, but don't know the details. These are gradually revealed to the reader as the book unfolds. Most of the action takes place in Manitoba and B.C., but there are flashbacks to earlier times in Tristan's life, and actions that take place between these two main locations.
Tristan is trying to stay on the straight and narrow, but as attempts are made on his life, he has to take matters into his own hands just to stay alive. There is a fair bit of violence here, both against Tristan and committed by him, but as we learn more about him, and his past and his motivations, we become more and more on his side. Tristan is a man that doesn't talk a lot, but has a presence. He is as his daughter says, a man born a century and a half later than he should have been.
Tristan was a victim of residential school abuse, and this past has shaped him and his life in ways that those of us who haven't experienced it can't really know. There is a larger story here that is gradually revealed. The author provides a brief background piece at the end of the novel that is very helpful.
My reaction to reading this book grew as I read, leading me to "Wow." A wonderful debut novel by a new Canadian writer.