“Forgiveness is a long hard road.”

“‘All you hear here are tales of lust, hate and despair,’ she continued. Every word she spoke was said slowly, weighted by her heart and soul. ‘You know what they say? Shit flows downhill and well, there’s the hill up there.’ She pointed at the antenna at the top of Mount Royal.”

Ian Truman, a graduate of Concordia’s creative writing program, released his second novel, Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair, this past summer, about a man from Montreal named Samuel Lee who is serving a life sentence in prison.

The story is a long letter to his 18-year-old daughter, Melody, detailing how he became a murderer back in 1996.

Samuel relates how he first went to prison for two years for beating up a police officer who was attacking a friend of his. His stint in prison means leaving his pregnant girlfriend Alice behind, who — having no money — finds an infamous coke dealer to support her and her daughter.

Samuel learns all of this after leaving prison, and decides that he must do everything in his power to be with his daughter. With the help of his only loyal friend, Mikey, he comes up with a plan to get his daughter and girlfriend back.

This violent story shows us a side of Montreal few have seen before; one that is filled with poverty, drugs, and street gangs. The descriptive tale paints a new picture in our minds of places we thought we knew, places like Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and St-Michel, and even the downtown Concordia University campus.

This story of friendship, love and, most of all, revenge proves captivating.

The book is written in the first person point of view, and reminiscent of the style of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye with more swearing and much, much more blood. It takes a few pages to get used to the style, but once you do, it becomes almost impossible to stop reading. Samuel’s voice is raw, angry and emotional. It feels like he’s speaking directly to the reader rather than his daughter, using flashbacks to explain how he got to be where he is today. He also sometimes imagines what life would be like if he had a house, a wife and children; a life far away from his current life of crime.

The story did have a few typos and grammar issues, as well as some awkward sentence structure at times. A quick edit would definitely make this novel a much smoother read.

Overall, this action-packed and heartbreaking novel was a page-turner. Although we know that Samuel will become a murderer from the start, the story keeps us on our toes the entire time wondering who he will kill, how he will do it, and why. This story is definitely unique and while not for the faint of heart, this noir-style tale definitely deserves a read.

Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair is available on Amazon for $2.99 in electronic format.

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