One Minute Gone begins when our lead Porter Hall, a successful businessman living with his twin son and daughter in New York, receives three phone calls. One is about finalizing his divorce; the second is about his soon-to-be-ex being committed; the last is his friend Jamie, making a lunch date. When Jamie doesn’t turn up to lunch, all three calls quickly become tied to the mysterious plot of an unknown enemy to put Porter in prison.
The conspiracy working against him is complex and works on many different levels. As Porter begins to untangle the mystery to find out who his real enemy is, he discovers links to old alliances, big business, family politics, and the mob. Though complex in nature, Hansard’s clean writing style allows the reader to navigate the many twists and turns easily.
He also draws us in with the use of an engaging everyman hero. Porter Hall’s rugged individualism from his Wyoming upbringing is paired with a New York slickness and wit. We can immediately identify with him as a man and a father who wants to be left alone with those he loves, which in turn only strengthens the empathy we feel at the horrible intrusion he has suffered. He has an innate decency and believable set of skills that help him move through ever-tightening circumstances.
Hansard also uses the city of New York itself as a character, though at times his portrayal feels like a western landscape, mixing the two the elements in interesting ways. Like a seasoned cowboy, Porter navigates the city and uses it to his advantage. It’s difficult to picture this story taking place anywhere else.
One Minute Gone is a brilliant debut. It is accessible and engaging with a hero worth investing in. I look forward to Porter Hall getting into more trouble.
Copies of One Minute Gone are available on our shelves at BookPeople and via bookpeople.com.