The Proud & the Dumb by Bob Freville

The Proud & the Dumb by Bob Freville
Publisher: Godless
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Some godless horrors are more unforgivable than others, baseless prejudice and willful ignorance chief among them.

In The Proud & the Dumb, a group of white separatists suspect their friend of being a traitor. After a few seemingly innocent remarks call his blind loyalty into question, the group decides to confirm its suspicions in the only way it knows how – by employing insults and threats.

These nasty threats are met with answers the group is unwilling to confront, answers that lead to a series of increasingly absurd and violent acts.

Hatred poisons everything.

Some of the most interesting scenes in my opinion were the ones that showed the characters experiencing brief moments of clarity that pierced through even their most deeply held prejudices. People are complex and often have nuanced reasons for the things they say or do even if their first explanation for those actions might seem pretty stereotypical. I appreciated the fact that the author acknowledged this without ever turning it into an excuse for a character’s prejudices.

It would have been helpful to see more time spent on the character development. I struggled to keep track of who was who because of how similar all of the characters were. Their personalities often blended together in my mind, and sometimes I misremembered which descriptions belonged to which individual. While I know that one of the points the author was trying to make had to do with how people can be forced to tow the party line in these sorts of organizations, I did find myself wishing I knew more about who the characters were outside of their membership in their hate group.

The conclusion was perfect. Not only did it dig deeply into the characters’ motivations for hating so many different groups of people, the explanation it provided fit what I knew about their personalities and backstories as well. I also enjoyed the way the author took this revelation and used it for one final plot twist just when I thought he’d run out of ways to surprise his audience.

The Proud & the Dumb was a thought-provoking read.

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