Low End Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Low End

Gary Morrissey, a working musician slowly with a day job, has just learned of the death of a mutual friend, session bass player Devon Jones. The report comes via the person of Martin Seddon, a good friend of Gary's. “Captain” Marty doesn't believe that the official story of Devon's death is truth. Although neither of the men have any idea of what they can do to find the unofficial truth, Gary feels a certain loyalty and a desire to help Marty since he'd helped Gary recover and cope after a nasty divorce.
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Devon had been gunned down by police officers during a response to what was purported to be a loud domestic dispute. However, Devon had been preoccupied with what he'd concluded to be a large-scale drug dealing conspiracy and had been in fear for his life. Were the police really responsible? Had there been truth to his conspiracy theory? More from a sense of duty to a friend than any desire to get involved with what could possibly be a high-stakes illegal empire, Gary decides to ask a few questions.

Gary figures he can research Devon's last few months of life by visiting some of his haunts and talking to those who knew him. Burdened by his own emotional wounds and the prospect of a new relationship with Lisa, a smart and attractive young lady, Gary is pulled between helping a friend and keeping Lisa and himself from joining Devon on the obituary page. His investigation, at first half-hearted and inept, gradually gains a position of prominence in his life as he crosses paths with a Yonkers Police Department homicide detective with a skeleton – literally – in his family closet, the sergeant-at-arms of the Devil's Own, a small, local outlaw motorcycle club trying to maintain an air of legality in a tough neighborhood, and a high-roller drug czar who may not be what he seems.

Gary is falling for Lisa contradicting his own policy to avoid emotional dependence at all cost. Lisa too finds herself developing an emotional attachment that she says she doesn't believe exists in ‘real' life. She also has a secret that she is trying to keep Gary from discovering.

Devon thought he had evidence in his possession that would prove the existence of a wide-scale government attempt to kill off the Baby Boomers before they reach Social Security age. Why before this age? His assumption was that the government would want to do this rather than go bankrupt paying out Social Security benefits to the largest group of recipients ever. While Gary feels this theoretical ‘conspiracy' is ludicrous, he becomes more and more convinced that, although it might not have been the government who had killed Devon, he just might have had evidence of something, and that something just possibly had been proven lethal.

Through his investigations, Gary pops up on the radar of an organization manufacturing and delivering methamphetamine or speed to an underground network of dealers – all done on a very large scale. The head man of this organization wants Gary to help him find the evidence that Devon had and turn it over to him. His own people have been, according to this head man, unable to accomplish this due to their inability to blend in and flow with the rowdy biker, druggie and musician element.

Gary finds the evidence, but to him it seems all too easy.    From this he surmises that the drug dealing organization wants the evidence found. Why? For a type of plausible denial. Local law enforcement has been getting closer to the truth than could be tolerated. The evidence would cast guilt in a different direction and allow a previously used deception to once again cover traces of the organization.

Meanwhile, a second victim associated with Devon Jones has reappeared – the niece of the police detective investigating the Devon Jones incident. Detective O'Brien had been assigned to the Devon Jones case by a department pressed to find who had been masquerading as police officers and killing the citizenry. On his own time, he is consumed with finding out who was polluting his city with dope while simultaneously eliminating the small-time street dealers.

O'Brien, a man highly sensitive to family honor, had become aware that his niece Melissa was in a family way and that Devon, consumed as he was by his conspiracy theories, had no intention of ‘doing the right thing' – he was far too concerned with keeping himself and Melissa from premature death. In a fit of righteous rage, O'Brien had killed Melissa and dumped the body in a condemned building due for demolition.

Gary knows that O'Brien knew who the bones found at the building site belonged to well before the coroner's report and O'Brien knows that Gary knows. Self preservation heaped onto guilt at his own crime drives O'Brien to murder Captain Marty when Gary gives the Captain a copy of a tape recording of a conversation incriminating O'Brien. The murder is committed in public view. Gary correctly assumes that O'Brien has lost all touch with reality and fears for both his as well as Lisa's life. He lures O'Brien to an isolated spot with the promise of delivering the master cassette. He ambushes O'Brien and kills him. Gary is deeply shocked at his own lack of morality and continues to rationalize his actions for the remainder of the book.

At the same time, Gary is informed that the evidence is no longer needed by the head man of the drug organization. He is free to do as he pleases with the information. Knowing that this is exactly what they want him to do – go to the police so as to commence the drug organization's cover-up – he instead destroys the evidence. There is full realization on Gary's part that he hasn't even slowed these drug dealers down. Between his remorse over his execution of O'Brien, the inability to harm the drug dealers and the impending loss of Lisa, Gary descends into maudlin self-pity.

The review of this Book prepared by Harry G. Pellegrin

Chapter Analysis of Low End

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 20%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   depressing/sad How difficult to spot villain?    -   Difficult, but some clues given What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   80% Special suspect?    -   investigator him/herself Murder of certain profession?    -   musicians Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   local police w/ IQ of a houseplant Kind of investigator    -   amateur citizen investigator Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   big city life Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes Is Romance a MAJOR (25%+) part of story?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   musician Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Harry G. Pellegrin Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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