"The Wash" Book Review
Written by Tony Jones
Published by Amazon Digital Services
Written by Cary Christopher
2017, 268 pages, Fiction
Released on October 14th, 2017
Set in the dead-end town of Ogden Wash, Utah, a group of friendly drop-outs are quite content to grind out a living in a one-horse dump where very little happens. A big night out on the tiles usually involves hanging out at the local bar where you can also pick up your illegal substances whilst one of the main characters, JB, serves the drinks, has his iPod on shuffle and charms the women. The whole novel is set around the Wash and the fact that nothing much happens in the town filters across into a pretty dull opening sequence, where once again, not much happens. Before long I found myself getting confused with which character was which, as they are all similar. As I’m writing this review, I’m struggling to differentiate Robert from Steve, but I’ve just about got JB nailed down. I have the same issue problem with the women, none of them are particularly inventive or engaging characters. Ultimately that is a real weakness of the The Wash.
The opening chapter promptly introduces an aspect of the supernatural which resurfaces later in the novel. Hiding from her mum so she can stay outside late, Katie stumbles upon a talking coyote lurking on the side of the highway. Over the next few days, some of the other characters see the same coyote whose significance is revealed later in the novel.
It’s not often you’ll see the Mormon faith featured in a horror novel and this really grabbed my attention as it is something different. As the story is set in Utah, I guess this is the place to do it. A local businessman and prominent Mormon, Phillip Anderson, turns up at the door of Cindy (who had been dumped by bartender JB) and has a friendly but potentially unhealthy interest in her house. Why, as it’s nothing special? The answer is a key element of the supernatural story arc and before long Anderson ends up dead and nobody is sure why this seemingly happily married man would murder his own family.
We go from nothing happening in Ogden to all sorts of weird stuff, including visions, more coyotes, disappearances, murder, sacrifices, and odd goings on in Old Ogden Cemetery. At a couple of stages, it feels like an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as Steve and JB suspect something nasty has happened to another friend. The story continually moves between mundane day-to-day goings on at the Wash before heading deeper into the world of the supernatural and Aztec mythology.
There are some decent set pieces in the second half of the novel, heading to a violent conclusion. If you have some interest in Aztec and Native American mythology, this might be a novel for you, but I find much of it hard to swallow. However, the supernatural cultural aspect intrigued me enough to check Google as to whether a few names mentioned were real Altec characters or creations of the author. I did not feel the dull Ogden Wash setting mixes particularly well with the mythology the author is selling and am not convinced it mixes well. The crazy Mormon angle is certainly a fresh plot twist which made me chuckle, otherwise it is a struggle. Overall the characters are just too bland, and I cared little of whether they were savaged by an ancient demon god or survived to fight another day. I doubt I will be visiting Utah or Ogden Wash anytime soon.