Hollon is an author of superior talent, a man given to mining the dark interior of the human psyche. In Blood and Circumstance, he once more provides his fans with a complicated protagonist mired in a moral abyss.
Joel Stabler is being held for murder after admitting to shooting his brother, Danny, who suffers from the rapid cycling of mental illness. Joel finally puts Danny out of his misery, choosing to end the young manís suffering after watching years of the same debilitation in their father.
Joel and Danny have been raised in the abusive household of their crazy father, a man given to profound depressions and violent rages; only their younger sister, Lisa, escapes the manís wrath by his premature death. At that point, Joel is forced to watch Danny suffer a similar fate.
Assigned a forensic psychologist, Dr. Ellis Andrews, Joel sits through a series of interviews as his fate is determined by the court and the doctorís recommendations. Andrews is impressed by Joelís forthright responses, the clarity about his motives and a lifetime of abuse.
As Joel unravels the violence of his tragic childhood, he appeals to Dr. Ellis for some recognition of his long struggle, the sense of purpose he feels before the act of fratricide.
The accused murderer has a clear-eyed manner of addressing the hypocrisy of the human condition, never flinching from direct conflict or hiding behind facile answers: ďYou have to find the courage to explore the darkness in your heart.Ē
Peeling away the layers of a troubled personality, Joel presents an appealing figure, the doctorís sympathy aroused by the young manís lack of pretense as he tells of a horrible childhood riddled with the uncertainty of his own mental state: ďYou canít get away from your blood and my bloodís poison.Ē Yet Andrews struggles to remain objective, realizing the pitfalls of identifying too closely with a patient.
Ellis takes copious notes through a dialog that questions the most basic belief systems, the existence or non-existence of God, manís personal responsibility in the greater scheme of things and nature versus nurture. A product of an environment that has shaped his future, Ellis is Stablerís only link to the courtís comprehension of his actions.
A startling revelation turns the novel inside out, cutting to the heart of the matter, altering perception of reality. The line between truth and fiction is so smoothly blended that it is impossible to distinguish one from another. An incisive mind tunneling deeply into the dynamics of his masterfully constructed characters, Hollon proves his unique talent once more as a thrilling manipulator of the human psyche.