Provisional prisoner takes readers on a quest to find his missing sister

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Book of the week

Ethan Lockhart is being held in a Nevada prison for armed robbery. He is baffled to suddenly learn that he has been granted 48 hours of leave – unsupervised – to attend his sister Abby’s funeral. There are conditions on Ethan’s release: no alcohol, no drugs, no gun possession, no driving, no leaving the state, no crime of any kind, not even jaywalking. . Good luck.

Who organized the release and why it is unattended are not immediately answered.

André Bourelle

Ethan’s Exit is the setting of Andrew Bourelle’s spiked black thriller “48 Hours to Kill”.

The book is not about Ethan who seeks to kill time while he is away. No thrills there. It’s about Ethan seeking revenge for what he believes is his sister’s murder. The cops assume that Abby is dead from the large amount of blood she lost. But his body has not been found. At her funeral, there is an open – and empty – casket in which guests deposit Abby’s memorabilia.

Bourelle said he made a conscious choice not to water down Ethan’s violent world inside and outside prison.

Still, Ethan has a soft side. He is shown to have been a loving older brother. And Abby loved it.

“The challenge was to create a sympathetic criminal, one to root for,” Bourelle, a resident of Albuquerque, said in a telephone interview. Indeed, Ethan becomes a likeable character although he returns to crime. The author said he didn’t want to portray Ethan as neither completely sociopathic nor completely unrecoverable.

In search of leads to find his sister, dead or alive, Ethan defeats the villains with whom he once worked. He goes after his former boss, Shark, a club owner and now a major crime figure in Reno. He deals a blow to the face of Abby’s neighbor who secretly spies on her and photographs her. He attacks an FBI agent who is having an affair with Abby. Ethan is pretty much a lone wolf in the hunt, except when he allows Abby’s best friend Whitney to act as his sidekick. Both end up in danger. The violence ends when Whitney and Ethan’s friendship turns to romance and sex.

“My goal from the start was to create a narrative that keeps you moving, makes you want to turn the pages,” Bourelle said. He succeeds.

“It’s not as easy as people think to do a quick read,” the author added.

A literary device which effectively accelerates the pace and increases the tension divides the novel into very short chapters; most of the chapters are successive scenes in a countdown starting two hours before Ethan’s release. For example, chapter 26 is introduced with “Ethan / 38 hours, 21 minutes remaining”. Three pages later, chapter 27 begins with “Ethan / 36 hours, 37 minutes remaining”. The clock is turning. I like Bourelle’s originality with metaphors. In one scene, Ethan and Whitney are handcuffed on a yacht on a frigid lake: “The surface (of the lake) was black with the light reflected from the moon, like shimmering scales on a snake whose skin stretched out all over the place. directions.

Later, as Ethan is about to return to prison, he proclaims that he will not die from his multiple injuries, although he “seems to feel like his vocal cords have been crushed with a sander. bandaged”.

Bourelle knows Nevada well. He lived in the Reno area for 12 years, working as a journalist and a university student. On occasion, his reporting took him to Carson City Jail. He was inspired by these visits to shape the prison scenes of the novel.

As for Ethan’s unsupervised jail leave, Bourelle said, it’s probably an unrealistic concept.

“48 Hours to Kill” was published by Crooked Lane Books with the assistance of a literary agent.

“It took a while to find an agent… who loved the book and stood up for it. So I put it in his hands, ”he said. Bourelle is Associate Professor of English at the University of New Mexico. In this post, he should publish. “I’m busy teaching, working in a committee, so I have to set aside time for writing. I do not sleep a lot. I write a lot at night. I get out of bed and try to write, to catch up on my academic delay. I try not to sacrifice time spent with my family, ”he said.

In some of his UNM classes, he and his students talk about the difficulties of getting published, of finding an agent, of the writing process. “Students are often put off by the breadth of writing a novel,” Bourelle said. “I can bring up my own books in this context. People tend to take advantage of the experiences of other writers.

Bourelle’s first novel was “Heavy Metal,” a coming-of-age story. Its publication in 2017 is the result of being awarded the Autumn House Fiction award.

Bourelle has also co-authored with James Patterson on the thrillers “Texas Ranger” and “Texas Outlaw”. Many of Bourelle’s short stories have appeared in literary journals and fiction anthologies.


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