One Bad Day
In One Bad Day by Steve Rolston, Marie and her buddy Justin are hanging out, chatting and buying cigarettes, when she sees an old friend get hit by a van. This disturbing coincidence puts in motion a chain of events that will force her to commit acts previously unthinkable when she’s only trying to get to a cousin’s birthday party that she’s been guilt-tripped into attending. There’s also a bald hit man, his shallow girlfriend, a shady transaction, and several guns and chase scenes.
Marie is a regular girl. She tries to do the right thing in cases where that’s as simple as acknowledging a greeting or trying to contact an injured friend’s parents. It’s not her choices that bring about violence; instead, it’s a comment on how close to the edge we live without noticing. Our society isn’t the safe fiction we like to believe it is. Terrible things can happen to decent people without them deserving it.
At the same time, the reader remains aware that this is a story. It’s plausible, but for many of us, this is the closest we’ll come to this kind of violence. There’s a thrill to experiencing that roller coaster without having to deal with the consequences.
Rolston’s cartoon-like style maintains the reader’s separation. Through its simplicity, it reminds us that this is a simplified view of events, selected by the author. Rolston doesn’t skimp on details or backgrounds, though, and the pacing is excellent. The dark green and white printing makes the book distinctive without interfering with readability.
“Light-hearted” is a strange adjective to use for a crime thriller, but that’s the unusual achievement demonstrated here. Rolston has created a fun adventure read that shows how easy it is to have a really bad day.
Steve Rolston has a website. He has also illustrated
– Pounded, a punk rock soap opera, written by Brian Wood
– Mek, written by Warren Ellis (and published as a flipbook with Reload)
– a short story in Four-Letter Worlds, written by Jay Faerber, about an apartment dweller sensitive to noise.