Somewhere between 2 and 3 stars; I enjoyed it well enough, but was more taken with its ambitions than the actual experience.
Again taking a page--and character arc, various contextual trappings, and a plot--from classic noir predecessors, Guthrie's novel follows a nervous nelly named Nick Glass, a new prison guard, as he is surely driven from anxiety to full-blown paranoid aggression by his colleagues and his "clients". He is trapped in a plot, and every little step he takes to assert some control over his destiny drags him ever more deeply into the tar.
I'll say no more than the novel only seems
that straightforward, far more linear and (well) apparently obvious than the excellent Savage Night
which preceded it, but Slammer
does actually play a few intriguing games. That said, even these games seem not unfamiliar to fans of Jim Thompson. What's great about Guthrie are two qualities: 1) a streak of sick dark humor and 2) a genre fan's appreciation for the elements that work, *and* for the ways you can and should and might reshuffle those elements, reconfigure them to disrupt and tease and energize.
All said, a reasonable read. But if you had any inclination to check out Guthrie, go immediately to find Savage Night
, and then once you're sold on him, start reading your way through everything he writes, as I'm doing, and will continue to do.