Serendipity. Fate. Providence. Destiny. Words that describe the unpredictable, circuitous path of life. On the surface chaos rules, but when individual stories are pasted together, a pattern emerges; sometimes subtle, other times astounding. Bad things happen everywhere, but just as often, destruction breeds creation. In T. L. Hines' latest, four novellas tell separate yet joined tales connected at the smallest turns. It's a dark world, true enough. Many novels portray that. “Faces in the Fire” shows how that darkness serves to make even small glimmers of light brighter.
Kurt Marlowe is a truck driver. He's quiet. Withdrawn. Humble, and a hard worker. Also, after several years of driving, he inexplicably discovered an artistic talent that allows him to work at his leisure. Life is okay, considering he has no memory of his former life before walking into truck driving school several years ago, and that dead people's clothes talk to him.
That's what makes him pick up a hitcher named Corrine; a pair of dead man's shoes that keeps flashing visions of a burning catfish at him – a catfish tattooed on Corrine's arm. Corrine - a computer hacker and spammer dieing of cancer – got her tattoo at a parlor named “GraceSpace”. Grace is a junkie who fled her husband and children years ago because of the Dead Blood in her veins. Then there's Stan, who can kill people by touch...until some strange junkie with Dead Blood in her veins touches him, canceling out his horrible gift with her blood.
In “Faces”, Hines has created something unique that's also well-written and finely crafted. Though nonlinear and open-ended, “Faces” is also highly structured, because even though Hines may not have tied each story off, all of them are intricately connected. Those who want simple answers may find this frustrating. Others, however, will appreciate and enjoy Hines' effort at “art imitating life”.