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Review: You Were Never Really Here, by Johnathan Ames

Few things match the excitement of finding an unheard of book which floors you like a punch to the gut, only to learn the author has other books you can immediately jump into. I am thrilled to say this has just happened to me, as I read, and thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan AmesYou Were Never Really Here.

Ames has done everything right in this novella. The main character, Joe, is damaged from a severely abusive childhood relationship with his father. Convinced he is damaged and unworthy of happiness, he has sworn off women and love from anyone other than his mother. Instead he focuses his life’s mission on rescuing the most vulnerable of our society; children who are being exploited for sexual gratification.

One day Joe receives a job offer; to n save a local politician’s young daughter who has been kidnapped and is being held in a brothel with an upper crust clientele. In a situation in which he doesn’t know who to trust or where to turn, Joe finds even his military training may not have prepared him for the whirlwind of treachery he has set in motion.

This was a real blast of noir. Joe is a flawed and damaged character who has set his moral compass on a mission he feels will change his inner hatred to a feeling of contentment on who he has become after a rough life. But we learn throughout the book Joe will never fix his damaged mind and heart. WE learn early in this novella there will never be redemption for Joe, and that makes the ride through this novella even more enjoyable.

Ames has quite a few novels published. A quick search shows me most of them aren’t my typical reading choices, but he does have a few I am interested in published. I plan on using this well-written novella as a springboard to what I am hoping is a new favorite author.