|A review of Gravedigger
by Kajamir the Giant
Gravedigger is a short story that features a not too common center. Your average yarn usually deals with a conflict centered around a struggling hero ending in a fortuitous conclusion. Gravedigger is about an utterly amoral and aging ex-con who is not seeking redemption, but the final big score so he may retire and live the life of Riley. There is no decency or even a nod towards real kindness. In that world, he lives amongst others with similar sentiments as the final big score takes a violent end. While the end of the plot might be predictable, it's fascinating to read in a mere thirty pages of crime drama. The consistency and cleverness of the 'protagonist' adds a lot of flavor to a short meal.
Starting with the art, there's a gritty pulp fiction/Grand Theft Auto resemblance. I think it suits things rather nicely. The characters are realistically noir detailed and not necessarily very pretty or handsome looking. It makes them suitably more villainous without going so far as to have a Snidley Whiplash style of evil appearance. Rather, they bear a hard visage but could look like anyone else in real life. Gritty would describe them.
I really liked the story here. Often, you don't get to see an evil natured individual run through his paces as the main character. When there is, he's almost comical or unbelievable. The ex-con, while skilled, is entirely a normal man with a personal code of conduct. He bears enormous amounts of pride but doesn't let it slip to others. We are privy to hear his thoughts and musings about situations and of himself, allowing us to see how the machine works. While effective, he's not entirely perfect either, but interestingly enough he seems to acknowledge this of himself. He's a sinner and very open to himself about it.
If there's problems with the story, I'll say the extra characters introduced as his associates, several have no real bearing on anything. Why they're given characterization, I can only guess is to keep us in the dark about the conclusion. Still, it feels a little off in an otherwise good story run. Second, how the ex-con begins to meet his end seemed oddly out of character for him. He goes around planning and suspecting things correctly, but a very obvious opportunity he passes up, and winds up with a mortal penalty as a result. It's not clear to me why he didn't make use of said time to finish the job. I would also say he could use a bit more characterization, but he works as who he is in the limited room.
All the same, I thought the story in the context of 30 pages was very enjoyable, and would have liked to have read more. It's a pity how things turned out, even if he is a villain, but I think that a story that can make one care for the criminal has done well.
I'm giving Gravedigger an 8 out of 10 stars. It's short, but sophisticated and engaging. I'd recommend it if anything mentioned above sounds interesting, but it's not really appropriate for a young audience due to brief nudity, visual violence, and the amoral behavior.