REVIEW OF POTTER’S FIELD BY ROB HART

POTTER’S FIELD

Rob Hart

July 10, 2018

Polis Books

 

Some people seem to never grow up.

For Ash McKenna’s, that meant spending his days in an eternal funk, unable to crawl out of the emotional pit he found himself in after the death of his firefighter father during the 9/11 tragedy. Spiraling out control, Ash kept himself in booze and pills by doing odd jobs for local New York crime boss Ginny Tonic. A self-described “blunt instrument,” Ash would just need to be pointed at a person, place, or thing. Then he’d punch it until it would break. Ash wasn’t a bad guy, but he was an incomplete version of a human being. He was pure Id, motivated by basic human drives and desires. Ash has spent his life raging through the city of New York, boozing and bashing everything and anything that got in his way. After the violent and unfortunate events of NEW YORKED, Ash finally realized that the only way to become more than the broken man-child that he was, was to get out of the only place he’s ever called home.

Batman needed to leave Gotham.

With his debut novel NEW YORKED, Rob Hart introduced the world to a very singular voice and style. But then, Hart did the unthinkable: he flipped the script and instead of continuing the (very good) adventures of the vengeful amateur PI stalking the rain-soaked streets of New York, he sent Ash out into the world. CITY OF ROSE, SOUTH VILLAGE, and THE WOMAN FROM PRAGUE showed us the growth of Ash Mckenna. Batman became Caine from Kung Fu. Wandering the world, getting into adventures. Growing as a person. Of course, all journeys eventually must come to an end, and it’s time to go home. New York is calling. It’s time to face old ghosts. For Ash, New York will always be home.

In POTTER’S FIELD, Ash returns home with a very short To Do list: find a place to live, call his mom, find a job, and track down the girl who got away. What he finds, is his Staten Island neighborhood is in the midst of becoming Ground Zero for a heroin epidemic and a looming turf war between rival gangs. Ash used to do jobs for Ginny Tonic in the bad old days, but now the upstart criminal Kid Vicious is moving into the various neighborhoods in a serious way. While the heroin epidemic is ripped from the headlines, Hart uses heroin to hold a mirror up to Ash’s old friends and cronies. What kind of road was Ash on before making the choice to leave? Was he destined to become a lieutenant in Ginny Tonic’s crime empire? Or would his recreational usage have lead him to full blown addiction?

While Ash’s list of things is the same as anyone’s To-Do list who just moved back to town, it represents the agonizing final accomplishments he needs to achieve in order to secure his new-found adulthood. By the time the conflict between Ginny Tonic and Kid Vicious is in full swing, the reader is just as invested in whether or not Ash has called his mother or found an apartment as they are about the next lead in the heroin storyline. Now at five books in, Ash has become much more than the being of pure Id that he was in his introduction. Hart has taken his creation on a very real journey of growth and change. POTTER’S FIELD is the final stop on Ash’s journey. Ash McKenna has finally grown up.

 

Dan Malmon