The Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin
Publication date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
One instant can change an entire lifetime.
As a boy, Ellis Barstow heard the sound of the collision that killed Christopher, his older half brother—an accident that would haunt him for years. A decade later, searching for purpose after college, Ellis takes a job as a forensic reconstructionist, investigating and re-creating the details of fatal car accidents—under the guidance of the irascible John Boggs, who married Christopher’s girlfriend. Ellis takes naturally to the work, fascinated by the task of trying to find reason, and justice, within the seemingly random chaos of smashed glass and broken lives. But Ellis is harboring secrets of his own—not only his memory of the car crash that killed his brother but also his feelings for Boggs’s wife, Heather, which soon lead to a full-blown affair. And when Boggs inexplicably disappears, Ellis sets out to find him . . . and to try to make sense of the crash site his own life has become.
Raising a host of universal questions—Can science ever explain matters of the heart? Can we ever escape the gravitational pull of the past?—Nick Arvin’s novel is at once deeply moving and compulsively readable.
There probably aren’t very many people that can create a story dealing with the minutia involved with vehicle accident reconstruction and make it interesting. Thankfully Nick Arvin is an author that can take the mundane and often gruesome details of vehicle accident reconstruction and weave it deftly around the life of a man. Ellis Barstow is just that man.
Ellis, and his boss, John Boggs, travel around the country reconstructing motor vehicle accidents. It seems as if Ellis believes that by reconstructing other fatal motor vehicle accidents, he’ll better understand his half-brother’s death in a car accident. The story line becomes even more twisted when it is revealed that John Boggs has married the girlfriend of Ellis’ deceased sibling. To make matters worse, Ellis has begun an affair with John’s wife. After John learns of the affair, he threatens to kill himself and disappears. Ellis embarks on a journey to find him, by traveling to former accident sites, and along the way discovers truths about himself as well as what really happened with his brother’s fatal accident.
The Reconstructionist is a unique story that allows the reader to journey along with Ellis and witness his self-discovery or “reconstruction” of his life. Ellis learns that vehicle reconstruction is much easier than delving into the mysteries of his past as they impact on his future. The Reconstructionist is not a light or quick read, but it is a great story that provides quirky, yet all-too-real characters and their lives that grabs the reader’s attention from beginning to end.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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