Red Light Run is a story of the complexity of human relationships in small towns, and the lifelong shockwaves a single death can cause.
Hartley Nolan is being released from prison in a few days. He’s served four years for drink driving and causing the death of Sonia, the wife of the local cemetery owner. Except Hartley was a renowned teetotaller so it all seemed a little odd at the time.
From Sonia’s distressed sister – who was the last person to speak to Sonia that night – to Hartley’s notorious drunkard wife, to Sonia’s entirely deranged husband and Hartley’s consistently useless father, we get to hear from almost every person who has been affected by the tragedy.
Their stories seem only loosely linked, but as they circle around apparently unrelated issues – such as the serial killer who murdered Hartley’s wife’s mother – the pieces start to fit together until we finally meet up with Sonia towards the end of the book, and find out exactly what happened the night she died.
What I thought of it
I really enjoyed Red Light Run. The novel rolls from one point of view to another – one per chapter – running like a narrative maypole around the imminent and actual release of Hartley Nolan from jail. Some character points of view feel even and rational; others border on virtual psychotic episodes.
The writing is fabulous and the scope is fairly epic in exploring the lasting effects a single accident can have on such a massive number of lives. Harper uses humour and poetic prose in equal measure to tell the stories of everyday people in an everyday small town whose lives are blown apart by death.
What are ‘linked stories’ anyway?
I was mildly suspicious of this book at first, simply because I’m not usually a huge fan of short stories and this book is billed as ‘linked stories’. However, it didn’t feel like a series of short stories. It feels more like a traditional split narrative with a couple of caveats – there are about a dozen or so points of view and you never get to return to a narrator once you’ve left them.
Disclosure: I received a copy from the publisher for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links.
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