Lead Poisoning by J.E. Seymour

Lead Poisoning by J.E. SeymourReviewed by Woodstock

Seymour’s debut novel follows a hardened criminal. Kevin Markinson works in New York, as an enforcer for an arm of organized crime. He has a wary eye on events around him, always carries a handgun tucked in the small of his back, checks in periodically with the men who supervise his activities and provide him with assignments.

When he happens to see something he shouldn’t, he instinctively moves into the situation to resolve matters in favor of the man collecting the protection money demanded by the group they both work for.

His bosses call him in for a brief conversation, he learns that he should not have interfered, and he is instructed to get out of town and lie low for awhile. Puzzled by the command, he nevertheless complies and points his fancy Jaguar north to his wife’s house in New Hampshire.

The couple has been estranged. Their two sons are learning a new life as small town high school students, with basketball, girls, and equestrian events. Kevin’s wife has a steady job at a local hospital, has returned to using her maiden name, and has invested in a comfortable house. When Kevin arrives, all the careful steps she has taken to establish a “straight” life for herself begin to fray at the seams.

The reader cannot help but root for this family. Parts of their lives are familiar and routine; basketball games, school board meetings, shopping for a new car, passing a driver’s license exam, a poignant afternoon at a family funeral.

But, (and the reader knows from the first page, that there would be a “but”) Kevin cannot easily let go of his past life. Eventually he begins a weekly commute to New York, to fulfill the various assignments given to him by his bosses. We learn of past convictions; some deserved and some not. His history as a Marine sniper in Vietnam; his proven skill as a jail breaker; and other weaknesses are revealed. Not all his relationships with his weekday cronies are harmonious; and at least one set of authorities is actively looking for him.

His wife begins to hope that this reconciliation will be permanent. Kevin begins to build a loving relationship with one son, and a contentious relationship with the second. Whether this family can make it into a secure future is the chief question of the book.

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