In her first adult novel, author Ivana Hruba tells the story of a kidnapping gone awry. We have in "A Decent Ransom" the perspectives of both. This something of a roller coaster ride of perspectives is both the strength and weakness of Hruba's novel. Three cheers for the juggling it requires for an author to switch adeptly between one character to another, one perspective to another. Where she misses, and that juggled plate comes on occasion crashing to the floor, is by using first person ("I") for ALL perspectives, ALL characters. The chapters are usually not too long, and each chapter tends to switch characters and perspectives. Maybe my mind is aging, but for me, this meant that I had to read sometimes as much as a full paragraph into the chapter before I could identify through which character's eyes I was now peering. His eyes like a fish's. His cheeks like an old woman's ass.
A DECENT RANSOM is not only a wholly well spun tale of a bungled kidnap caper which is not what it initially appears to be, but it is also an exercise in creative writing that places Hrubá in a high echelon of contemporary writers. But Hrubá keeps things clipped to short chapters and offers just enough information with each character's voice to allow the reader to stay on track: other authors using this technique often offer a smorgasbord of dialects and chapter changes to match that prevents consuming a hearty meal. Originally from the Czech Republic, Ivana Hrubá now lives and writes in Australia - and there are suggestions that her story does indeed take place in Australia despite the fact the it all seems so universal that it could happen anywhere.
His father (but not Phoebus') was a small-time crook, and Kenny dreams of being more, of pulling off something "big". The central plan of the story is the title caper, a ransom job, and, despite the title, it does not go decently for all. The novel weaves through a handful of narratives, different small-town pairings, that slowly coalesce into a rich tapestry of intrigues, betrayals, and failures. A good number of colorful characters are realized throughout the novel, all with their own stories, most looking for a way to change their lives.
A DECENT RANSOM is a story of a kidnapping gone right (according to the tag on the book). The storyline is pretty simple to start off with - two young (as is revealed) half-brothers, each a misfit in his own right, coming from a totally dysfunctional background, live in the dire circumstances that their mother deserted them in. Obviously the reader is going to assume that the scenario for this kidnapping is prey turned predator, that Rupert's refusal to pay the ransom will mean that Kathy sides with the brothers to "get him".
The author challenged the usual boundaries of contemporary fiction and bravely narrated the novel in the 1st person and through multiple perspectives of both male and female characters. A mesmerizing piece of fiction; Ivana Hruba lets her readers use their own intelligence to figure out things for themselves and also gives them space for imagination which gets topped off with the open ending.
Each evoked either compassion or empathy and I "cared" about what was going to happen to them...something every writer wants their reader to feel...and something every reader hopes for.
The style was intriguing: four first-person point-of-view narratives that interwove from chapter to chapter, sometimes playing out the same scene from alternating viewpoints - very cinematic. In the end, Kenny (not one of the narrators,) came across as the best drawn character to me. In the end, the author shows her faith and compassion in the human spirit in the way the characters come to terms with their roles in the crime(s).
At the begining of this book, I was captivated by the story.
Lots of interesting characters and I liked how each switch of narrator revealed more of the inner thoughts of each as well as further the story.
Filled with poultry and very long sentences, Ivana's idyllic childhood came to an abrupt end in 1983 when she and her family crossed the Alps on foot to seek a new life free of communists and their blasted queues. Following the publication of her debut thriller 'A Decent Ransom' by the now defunct Kunati Inc. in 2008, Ivana developed the habit of talking about herself in the third person, a skill that comes in particularly handy when writing biographies. In the tradition of all gifted folk, working for a living has never appealed to our author; therefore, Ivana has largely given up on the idea, preferring to spend her time writing books. In the wake of the, dare one say, earth-shattering success of her debut novel (18 copies sold in North America alone!) published by Kunati in 2008, Ivana has retreated from her adoring public to gain some much needed perspective on her life. At the close of each day, Ivana likes to unwind in front of the computer where she spends time googling herself, rating her own books very highly and drawing cartoons for her own amusement.