|The Interrogator's Notebook by Martin Ott
Norman Kross, a retired interrogator, finds himself teaching a class within his field expertise, perhaps feeling a bit bereft of his own path in life. In civilian life, he is going through the motions of a pseudo-proletarian existence. The aphorism "those who can't do, teach", rings with the banality of truth.
His family life is at odds with the successes of his professional life, and he is plagued with certain doubts.
"His bombshell Russian wife, her volatile violinist father, and his two headstrong sons stared at him from their framed family holiday photo. What did it say about him that he wan't in it? ... Did his family like having him around now that he wasn't traveling to the four corners of the globe..."
When Norman is commissioned with a job of interviewing a character actor, George Stark, concerning the death of a young woman, he suddenly finds himself walking a sinister tightrope that shatters his original assessment of the generic private sector.
"The actor paused and slyly looked over his shoulder. 'I'm going to like pulling the carpet out from under you and wrapping you up in it.' Stark tugged on the door handle, slid out, and casually reached back for the light switch, casting the room in total darkness."
With his own family now in certain peril, Norman must unmask the true threat that lurks just beyond the shadows.
I was impressed with the progression of The Interrogator's Notebook and the character development that portrayed a complex understanding (on the author's part) of human behavior. Snippets of the Notebook are added before each chapter, allowing a glimpse at the moral reckoning and experiences of the main character.
"As interrogators, we've all been instructed by our superiors to follow the rules with a wink. The subtext is the get results, that 'our' human lives are always more important than 'their' human lives. There are moral consequences, of course, to this approach, not just to a nation but to its citizens that commit themselves unequivocally to a cause."
There is a hard boiled quality to Ott's prose, it is allegorical and his narration is entirely transfixing. His references are dead on and, upon close inspection, his writing is quite profound.
Martin Ott is a former U.S. Army interrogator. He has published two books of poetry as well as dozens of short stories in publication. He also has a blog for writers: writeliving.wordpress.com
The Interrogator's Notebook by Martin Ott, 2013 ISBN 978-0983605881