AN ENIGMATIC ESCAPE: A TRILOGY, Dan Groat’s second novel, is an anthology of three connected works: the short story, “A Most Contemptible Whisper,” an eerie narrative from the troubled mind of a man struggling to cope with the sudden death of his wife; the novella, “The Covert Carver,” the poignant story of a man who goes searching for a meaningful retirement and finds both danger and insight; and the novella, “Mingaud’s Cell,” the quirky tale of a unique family group fighting unwanted change forced upon them by the government.
The best way to do this review is to give you my thoughts about each story. Luckily, there are three to share.
First thing is first, the author. Dan Groat writes three stories that have one single connection, certain characters in each story is related to another character in the previous ones. Each story is written differently, has a different over all feel, and the narrators are different as well. But, the book itself shows the lives of three men, brothers, and how they interact with other people.
In “A Most Contemptible Whisper” the narrator is Warren Blaylock. The story is simply a person talking and if you aren’t reading it with an open mind, it could confuse you or cause disinterest. I found this to be enjoyable, and though I was able to figure out the twist before it happened, that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. It read more like a dramatic monologue and I definitely got strange looks from my two year old. Definitely a short story worth reading, but out loud gives it a nice touch.
In the novella, “The Covert Carver”, we are introduced to Sam; a man who is trying to capture the past and figure out his future. He decides to camp in the valley that used to be a family homestead and instead of playing just boy scout, he learns something about himself, life, and makes a friend who is detrimental to those discoveries. I liked the openness of the story and though there were times that made it boring, it wasn’t a bad story. I loved the parts with Mack Blaylock and the discoveries Sam makes in the end.
“Mignaud’s Cell” is another novella set in a Pool Bar in Chicago owned by Jackie Blaylock. The narrator is a journalist who finds a family in the motley crew of “Prisoners” and “Parolees” in the bar. I found this story to be the easiest to get into. The writing easily pulls the reader into the world and you can relate to all of the characters portrayed. In all, this is my favorite out of the three stories.