In Joe Clifford’s second book of the Jay Porter series, December Boys, we learn an important facet of Porter…he’s a bit of an asshole. He is self destructive, angry, lashes out at those that love him, and he has a habit of painting others in his life as the problem and he never looks within himself to discover if he is the issue. On the flip-side, Jay has an enormous heart and he aches to be the father his son deserves and the husband his wife deserves. Clifford is certainly proving that Porter is a character that has depth and is a true flesh and bone man.
Porter is living with the fallout from Clifford’s previous novel, some of it good and some of it bad. He now lives with his son, having married his mother, but he still lives with the weight of his brother and their shared past. As his inability to deal with these pressures mount and he finds himself sabotaging any shot he has at happiness, Porter finds himself involved with the potential fact a judge may be selling young defendants to an institution that has more than their rehabilitation in mind.
It seems that a disproportionate number of juveniles are being sentenced to time at a privately run institution for relatively minor offenses. As Porter looks deeper into this issue, he learns that his old nemesis, The Lombardi Family, have deep connections to the institution, and should it get more public funding, stand to make a great deal of money from this scheme. With both a sense of justice and a hatred for all things concerning the Lombardi family, Porter finds himself looking for truth and answers, but he may have to sacrifice both a part of himself and his family life to find them.
This book is a hell of a read and a great addition to the Porter series. Clifford has fleshed out Porter into a hell of a noir figure. As much as he may think he is looking for happiness, Porter’s actions bring on nothing but despair to himself and all those around him. He seems to make things worse and worse because he doesn’t know when to get out of his own way. This is what makes him seem so real, as we all have moments of being our own worst enemy.
Clifford has written a book that will resonate with noir lovers, lovers of quality literature, and anyone with a pulse.
Highly Recommended. Reviewed by Derrick Horodyski.