I'm trying to remember how I first met Creston Mapes. *Met* being one of those words we use for folks we kinda know on the internet. I know I've mentioned his books a time or two on this blog, and we've corresponded on and off via email.
Nobody is his third book, and the first one I've had in my hands and read. Yeah I know I just said I've known him for awhile. His other two books, Dark Star and Full Tilt are books about a rock star and are aimed at young male readers. And while I've wanted to support Creston's work, apparently that didn't go so far as to buy novels for young men (sorry to the young guys in my life...). When Nobody became available to me as part of the book tours, I jumped at the chance to read one of his books for myself.
The book arrived and I opened the package with delight. A great looking cover--too bad it doesn't match the story! The dead body isn't discovered out in the middle of the street at all. I flipped the book over to read the back:
When reporter Hudson Ambrose hears an early morning call on his police scanner about an injured person at a bus stop on Las Vegas Boulevard, he rushes to the scene to get the scoop.
His world is blown off its axis when he discovers a murdered homeless man with a bankbook in his pocket showing a balance of almost one million dollars. Should he wait for the police, knowing the case will get lost in reams of red tape, or swipe the bankbook and take the investigation--and perhaps a chunk of the money--into his own hands?
With sirens bearing down on the scene, Hudson makes an impulse decision that whisks him on a frantic search for answers, not only about the mysterious dead man, but about the lost soul lurking within himself.
Uncovering bizarre links between a plane crash, a Las Vegas pit boss, a dirty cop, and a widowed Atlanta business mogul, Hudson is forced to find out: who was Chester Holte, what was he doing on the streets, and why are his homeless friends convinced he was an angel in disguise?
Fantasy or science fiction this is not, but it sounds interesting nonetheless. Besides, Creston is an almost friend of mine. I settle in to read the first couple chapters. Here are the opening paragraphs, because I know you expect to see them by now:
I'd seen stiffs at crime scenes before, one flat on his back in the middle of his garage with a twelve-inch meat cleaver sticking straight up out of his rib cage like a Halloween prank; self-inflicted, to boot.
But this one beat all.
I got there before the cops. Saw the guy from my Mustang GT. It was 5:54 a.m.
He was positioned upright at one of the dozens of covered bus stops along the Strop. Beneath flickering fluorescents, it looked as if he was just sleeping, like a thousand other bums scattered like garbage across the sand-blown outskirts of "fabulous Las Vegas." I rolled down my passenger window and leaned closer. Blood, dark like burgundy wine, but thicker--a pool of it, absorbed into the seat of his pants and ran shiny down the concrete block he was perched on, forming another smaller puddle beneath his black Converse high tops.
Creston's got great voice, and it only gets better. Most of the novel is from the first-person viewpoint of the reporter, Hudson Ambrose. Quite a few chapters are from the first-person viewpoint of Holly Queens. And several chapters are from the first-person viewpoints of random other people in the story. Well I guess not random! What I found interesting about this technique is that there is no warning of whose head we're in now, and yet it only takes a few sentences to figure it out. So it's odd, but it definitely works.
Something else I found intriguing is that this novel is unabashedly Christian and it really works. I've read a few where the *Christian* part really felt tacked on. Not the case with Nobody. If you're interested in a novel that challenges you to think about homeless people in a new light, to see corruption and greed fight for supremacy, and are curious at all about the Christian faith, I'd highly recommend this book.