Exit Wounds Summary (John Westermann)

John Westermann

Exit Wounds

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Those who survive combat, in whatever war, quite often find it difficult to tolerate a life in which the challenge to life and limb is less than total. Not surprisingly, many veterans gravitate to occupations which allow them to live on the edge. Orin Boyd is such a man; on his return from Vietnam, he signed on with the New York Police Department.

Fifteen years of work on the streets, however, have taken their toll. Boyd is emotionally crippled, dependent on alcohol to make it through a shift. He has survived largely because his partner has provided the necessary intelligence to make the team very successful. Accordingly, when his partner is retired with cancer, Boyd finds himself presented with an offer which he cannot refuse. The Commissioner wants to put an undercover agent into a precinct notorious for corruption and poor police work.

With his marriage at an end and his life in shambles, Boyd reluctantly agrees to join the “Lucky 13th” and collect information for the commissioner. Once there, Boyd discovers that his new home is even worse than he imagined. Overcome with self-pity, he sinks lower than ever before--losing what little remained of his self-respect in the process. Having hit rock bottom, however, Boyd finds that he indeed has no where to go but up. Therefore, he decides to expose the bad guys, bring a few villains to justice, and then escape with a substantial profit.

EXIT WOUNDS is a bit slow at the beginning, but the pace picks up as the reader realizes that Westermann is presenting overlapped episodes which intersect at various times and in a differing fashion. There is no doubt that EXIT WOUNDS owes much to NORTH DALLAS FORTY in its concept, language, and organization. Nevertheless, it will undoubtedly be as good the second time around--which is, of course, the best indication of a good read.