Solomon Bull is an intense thrill-ride along several distinct yet interconnected paths. Our eponymous half-Blackfoot is training to run the brutal Desert Dog when we meet him. This grueling race, sponsored by a man named Cal Barrett, is said to be a covert recruitment method for Barrett’s notoriously anti-government mercenary group.
Around the same time, Solomon breaks up with his girlfriend and enters into a bet with his roommate that he can make a certain Arizona Senator lose the upcoming election. He begins with simple tactics such as hijacking a billboard and posting a dual-meaning message on it. Things along this path escalate at a steady pace, from blocking roads with concrete barriers and leaving messages along the detour, to sending postcards and posting flyers with less than flattering messages, to defacing a natural landmark with a particularly scandalous political message. This bet earns him the revenge of said Senator and retaliation by his bodyguard Géraud. It also brings Solomon to the attention of an individual who also wants to bring down the Senator, though for a much different reason–sexual predation.
One day, after training, Solomon is approached by a woman named Rachel who says she is a Treasury agent and wants to recruit Solomon to infiltrate Barrett’s group in order to figure out what he is up to. She does this by first attempting to seduce Solomon in the shower…which understandably confuses him. This escalates to threats and strong-arming because Solomon genuinely likes Barrett and dislikes the government’s bullying.
By the time race day arrives, Solomon has the law on his tail and has sustained injuries thanks to Géraud. Can he survive the race long enough to stop the Senator and to withstand Rachel’s pressure to roll on Barrett, despite Barrett’s help against the Senator? Can he trust his friends not to snitch on him when the government puts out a reward against him? It’s time for loyalties to be tested.
I found Solomon Bull to be an engaging read. I enjoyed all of the different threads to the story. It was a great reminder that we are all complex, often contradictory, individuals. I like Solomon’s views on belief and the reality of nature and relevance in life: “We create and sustain relevance by belief alone. When enough men pretend, we forget we pretend. We enter the trance, every one of us a zombie convinced the fabric of belief is reality.”
He’s a very articulate, philosophical individual, which I greatly appreciated, and he’s not afraid to stand up for himself or to protect others. I loved that, at times, Solomon had a very snarky, Deadpool-like sense of humor.
The language of the story is poetic and staccato, like memory. It is written in the very unusual perspective of first person, present tense. This threw me off at first, but I grew to really enjoy it. The only downsides to the tale are a slew of misspelled words, mostly resulting from homophone issues. Waver/waiver usage is a big one. I also would have liked to have seen a wrap up to the Keith and Katrina storyline. However, these doesn’t take away from an overall excellent story. Highly recommended.