By Michael Kimball
I had never heard
of Michael Kimball until I saw his book Undone hiding next
to the Stephen King books in my local bookstore. I picked it up, had a
glance through it, and noticed a blurb written by Stephen King. King
says some very positive things about the book and one of the words he
uses is 'moving.' Now that I have read the book and am reading the
words on the back cover for a second time that word 'moving' is the one
that stands out the most. Undone
is an extremely moving book. It is also a very clever book with enough
surprises and twist and turns in the tale to keep the reader hooked all
the way to the end.
is set in the small town of Gravity, where Bobby and Noel Swift own the
local Superette. Bobby and Noel are both very intelligent and make a
handsome couple. In fact Noel is described as being the most beautiful
woman that Gravity or any other Maine town has ever seen.
Herb True, whose wife works at the Superette, claims that the reason
the store is so busy is because Noel serves behind the counter. He even
goes so far as to say that Noel causes more unplanned births in town
than the pope! So if Herb is right we are talking about one very good
looking lady here folks, and it is obvious from the very first chapter
that her husband Bobby loves her very much. He also trusts her enough
to put his life in her pretty little hands.
The Superette is a thriving business and the Swifts are doing well, but
the income from a small business in a small town is chicken feed when
compared to the $2,000,000 Bobby has hidden in an account in the Cayman
Islands. With the IRS and The Treasury Department watching his every
move though, Bobby has little chance of ever being able to enjoy his
hidden hoard. All that money really belongs to the bank and Bobby
acquired it by slightly dodgy means—one of the bank's loan officers
helped him out there. The loan officer is now in prison, but he is due
to be released soon. When that happens he will expect his cut of the
money. All in all it seems to Bobby that the best thing that
he can do is die. No one comes looking for a dead man.
Bobby has learned how to manipulate his heart and has used his skill to
convince the local doctor that he has a heart condition. Now, with the
help of the local undertaker, Elliot Wicker, Bobby intends to fake his
own death and allow himself to be buried alive. Bobby will be
underground for five hours, but he will have a heat mat hidden in his
coffin and few tanks of oxygen. In his trance-like state Bobby believes
he should be able to make his air last for six to eight hours. He is
not without worries though, because the only two people who
will know that he has been buried alive are Noel and Wicker. What if
something goes wrong? What if Noel gets delayed and fails to dig him up
in time? Or what if either one of them should double cross him? Bobby's
trusts Noel (almost) completely. His main doubts are about Wicker and
he wonders if he should confide in his lifelong friend Sal, he almost
does in fact, but in the end he places all of his trust in Noel.
Sal is an alcoholic, but he has his addiction under control and has
been dry for a long time. When he hears about his best friend's death
though all Sal wants is a drink, and when he finally allows the alcohol
back into his life he loses not only his job teaching at the school,
but his family as well.
The morning after Bobby's funeral something strange is found at his
grave. A hand, sticks up from the ground and points a gun at the sky.
The men who tend the graveyard think it is a joke—a fake hand—but when
they call Alston Bouchard, the local constable, he is not so sure and
he starts to dig. It isn't a rubber hand. It still has a body attached
to it—Elliot Wicker. Further digging uncovers an empty casket and the
whole problem becomes a matter for the State Police.
One of the great things about Undone
is the subplots, one of which involves Sal who becomes one of the
central characters—will he manage to keep off the booze and if he does
will he be able to win back his family? Another subplot involves Alston
Bouchard. He is an interesting character and appears to have more idea
about what is going on than anyone else in the story, but the State
Police keep pushing him aside. It's their show now and they only want
him as a spectator. Then there is Sal's wife Iris. She seems a little
hard-hearted about Sal's problems, but she has her reasons, and it is a
long way into the story before the reader discovers just what her
problem is. Iris' brother Jerry is also an interesting character and
there is a lot more to him than meets the eye. Then there is Noel. She
is sleek and sexy and a whole lot more, but this review has become a
little too long already and so if you want to find out any more about
Noel you will just have to read the book yourself.
is a little over four hundred pages long and once I began reading I
found it a hard book to put down. I notice on the cover that the
publishers class the book as a thriller, and it is certainly a
thrilling story, but it could also be classed as a horror
story becuase few things are more horrific than being buried
alive and Kimball describes Bobby's experience inside the coffin in
quite some detail. Scary!