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Red Weather, T.R. Healy’s second Web-e-Books® novel dealing with anti-social behavior is set in a commonplace American-community and offers a realistic view into the aggressive side of human nature, where the swell of mental suffering from others’ contemptibleness and avarice motivates a man’s response for revenge. Mr. Healy presents a life-long townie as his main character and positions him in a quaint lakeside community full of modern social contrasts. Ultimately, this is a wonderfully authentic and perfectly conceivable retaliation point for an unbalanced person to avenge those who have slighted him.
The leading and agitated man, Rance Sutter is approaching middle-age, lives unmarried with no family in his deceased parent’s old home, drinks heavily and alone, and wanders aimlessly around town at night in a muscle car. A member with other townies in the volunteer fire department, and owner of a tiny fishing shop bequeathed to him by his father, Sutter displays all the characteristics of a person who has accepted a life of mediocrity.
Variously, he seems to think rather highly of himself: he swims, rows a racing skull to stay in top shape, serves the community as an experienced and respected firefighter, custom-makes desirable fly rods, and continues to attract an old flame for non-committal sex. Still, clearly bugged by his surrounds and shortcomings, Sutter angrily complains about disgraceful crime-infested changes to his old neighborhood and the weak response by local law enforcement, and openly expresses resentment toward wealthy residents of fine summer homes harbored in relative isolation around the shores of the town’s delightful lake. Frequenters of his fishing shop, this traditional class of the well-healed deepens his remorse with audacious and consistent reminders of his flamboyant father’s failure as a big-talking, risk-taking businessman.
It is in this setting that the author deep dives into the mind of a loser unhappy with the disproportionate outcome of his existence, and through a wild series of villainous and unhinged actions related to Sutter’s vengeful neurosis, allows us to participate in a succession of deceptive criminal events by a man admired and trusted by friends in his community. Older, the prospect for marriage and a fresh start seemingly over, hardened by resentment, he wades in over his head, unable to see beyond the vanity of personal loss, his motivation for vengeance inspired when drug dealers infiltrate the idyllic surrounds of his youth. He suffers the pain of watching his happy childhood neighborhood decay, reacts by replacing his prideful heritage with the counterforces of equivalent immorality and perversion, and resorts to despicable arson to resolve the conflicts of his inner world.
Altogether, this intriguing, action-oriented work by T.R. Healy deserves as much attention for its revelation of the thought processes of a dissatisfied and aggrieved person as for its wonderful character descriptions and enveloping prose. From the perspective of Red Weather, we come to understand how children hurt by incessant denunciation may become capable as adults of exacting revenge for unjust beginnings.