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Untouchable Untouchable

by Scott O'Connor

Book Reviews

"Scott O'Connor speaks softly and somehow manages to make something beautiful of unspeakable matters . . . a voice so insistently stirring, you want to lean in close to catch every word."
--The New York Times Book Review

"A woman's death sends her trauma-site cleanup tech husband and their troubled son into a tailspin in O'Connor's heartfelt first novel (after novella Among Wolves). During the late days of the Y2K scare, David Darby mops up the gore left behind at suicide and crime scenes, and sleeps in his truck rather than in the bed he used to share with his wife. His son, fifth-grader Whitley (more commonly known as "The Kid"), meanwhile, refuses to believe his mother is dead and vows to remain mute until she returns. This doesn't do him any favors at school, where he's already something of an outcast. As Darby deteriorates, picking fights and pocketing souvenirs from death scenes, the Kid sets up a refuge of his own in a burned out house in their neighborhood. The story is involving and moves easily through material that could smother with treacle, but O'Connor's strong characters -- especially the Kid, whose elementary school humiliations are especially well handled -- and his ease with conveying their emotions keeps the novel afloat as father and son make small steps toward getting it together."
-- Publishers Weekly

"O'Connor's prose is as beautifully terse as his plot . . . It's an affecting mix, squeezing the reader's emotions so that when the myth of the "perfect" family begins to dissolve through flashbacks, it feels like the inevitable waking from a halcyon dream."
-- Booklist

"Meet Whitley Darby, aka The Kid: bullied, brutalized, poor, motherless, nearly friendless, voiceless, lost, untouchable. He's desperate for a hero or an angel or a miracle or something . . . anything . . . and he'll probably have to find it on his own. There are no easy answers or safe archetypes here, nor is there a single iota of sugar-coating. The world of Scott O'Connor's debut novel is tough, worn, and thoroughly lived in, and is as vivid and painfully honest as anything I've read in a very long time. Do not sleep on Untouchable, this is the real thing."
-- Nathan Singer, author of A Prayer for Dawn and In the Light of You

"Once in a very long time, a book comes along that resonates and sings with heart. It's characters so real you want to touch them, hug them. Their peril so well told you are filled with fear as you are a mere observer of their adventure. You find yourself holding your breath as you read the last pages of the story for all could be lost or won in the confines of this bound paper. And when it is over you wish you could read it all for the first time, again. That is how good this book is."
-- Crimespree Magazine