Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Dropper, (Cemetery Dance), by Ron McLarty

Full of substance, tempered by an unflinching realism, The Dropper is an emotionally complex portrait of a confused and determined young man aching for something better, unable to provide it, but still fighting to, anyway.  This is the type of story that defies easy categorization, for all those who love rooting for the underdog, the fighter in all of us.

Albert "Shoe" Horn is an apprentice plumber and part-time boxer in 1922 England.  A seventeen year old young man who's been forced to grow up far too quickly after his mother's death, Shoe is saddled with caring for his alcoholic, often abusive father and special needs brother, Bobby, while trying to make a life for himself as a plumber, and a name for himself as a fighter. 

During the day he lugs his tool box around town, wading through sewage and water, fixing pipes and water closets while his employer is busy down at "the club".  At night he "goes under the lights", carving out a reputation by the cut of his fists.  And somewhere in between he watches after Bobby and romances two different women, one a romantic ideal who dreams of being an actress, the other a woman Shoe could easily marry.  If he could ever make himself stay in one place with one woman for any length of time.

Things are changing for Shoe, though.  One night, under the lights, he deals a head-blow to a friend that turns lethal, and becomes haunted - either supernaturally, or psychologically - by his friend's resulting death.  And Molly has tired of Shoe's indecision, forcing him to make a choice Shoe isn't sure he's capable of.  And, worst of all, is Bobby.  It's become painfully clear that Bobby's needs have grown beyond Shoe's ability to manage, and this seventeen year old is suddenly faced with the very real possibility that he can longer care for his brother. 

And then there's Shoe's worst nightmare: The Dropper. A specter of darkness and rumor, a midwife-turned-child murderer...or so the story goes.   She haunts Shoe's steps, speaking in cryptic half-truths, and Shoe fears even more for his growing inability to care for Bobby...because he fears that Bobby may be The Dropper's next victim.

Haunting and melancholic, with the lightest touch of the supernatural, The Dropper is sure to be one of the year's best novels.  This isn't a "ghost story" or "dark fiction" or anything like that.  This is simply storytelling at its finest, a tale about a young man who never quite figures things out, but never drops his fists, either.

Visit www.ronmclarty.comBuy it today.

Kevin Lucia is a Contributing Editor for Shroud Magazine and a blogger for The Midnight Diner. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies. He's currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at Binghamton University, he teaches high school English and lives in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children. He is the author of Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, Book Four of The Hiram Grange Chronicles, and he's currently working on his first novel. Visit him on the web at

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Outstanding review for an incredible book. I just finished reading this (in two extended sittings over a 24 hour period no less) and applaud Mr. McLarty. He had me hooked the entire way.