Writer Alex Dolan, in his first novel The Euthanist, shows a talent for story and character. Our Narrator, Kali, is one of many who assist those close to death to pass on their own terms. They work with their families to say goodbye and make preparations before ending their own life. Unbeknownst to her, her current patient is looking for more than she realized. An undercover FBI Agent, Leland Moon, is the father of a child who was abducted by a brother and sister looking to start a family. Brutally mistreated and brainwashed, he returned home a shell of a person unable to cope with the real world. Moon, running out of options to save his child from himself, needs Kali’s help to give his son the closure he needs to move on. Can they trust each other enough to survive the consequences?
Dolan shows no signs he’s a first time novelist with The Euthanist. He brings together a story of kidnapping, parents trying to save their child after being recovered, and a young woman with a troubled past looking to end the suffering of those who need her help. Each with their own agenda they work through both their existing problems and those created by each step they take down a dangerous path. His characters are believable and he creates a narrative that’s new and unique. Much like those around us he peels back the layers of pride, judgement and fear until Kali and those around her are bare and exposed. The vulnerability he creates makes his ending more satisfying as a reader.
What distracted me was his constant reference to arachnophobia between Kali’s past and small intersections within the novel. It’s used once as a plot accessory – not so much a large movement of the story, but a small dissection that doesn’t feel thought out. Spiders felt too easy and didn’t build on the theme or the story. Dolan would have been better off without it in my opinion.
Overall The Euthanist is a fantastic novel that is deserving of your time. I personally finished the novel in one sitting. I became attached and felt personally invested in the outcome. The Euthanist is available now from Diversion publishing.