The price is right

By SAM PFEIFLE  |  April 1, 2009

As narrator, Irvine constructs an interesting polyphony where we're privy to the internal thoughts of his primary characters, but he doesn't reach nearly far enough. What are the bad guys' motivations? Maybe he can't construct the narrative without hiding the peculiars of "who benefits," but it feels like a cop-out. Aren't their decisions equally interesting? Why does a pro-lifer blow up a clinic, killing people along the way? Why do cops go bad? Why are some people so greedy they value money over human life?

Irvine has plenty to say on these topics, but he offers caricatures that are in stark contrast to his very human good guys. While he expertly manipulates the readers' sympathies and moral quandaries, it's sometimes too easy to see him moving the pieces.

Sam Pfeifle can be reached at sam_pfeifle@yahoo.com.

ALEXANDER C. IRVINE | reads from Buyout | Del Ray | 319 pages | $14 | and discusses "What's Your Life Worth?" at the Maine Festival of the Book | April 4 @ 12:30 pm | University of Southern Maine, Abromson Center, Bedford St, Portland | Free | 207.871.9100

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