The Churn by James S.A. Corey (2014) (read in 2021)
Published by marco on
Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an interest in this book, then I’m happy for you.
This is one of the earliest stories in the entire Expanse universe. It takes place before even Leviathan Wakes. This is Amos Burton’s origin story. It tells the story of how he started as a young thug named Timmy, in the employ of Baltimore crime lord Amos Burton. He ends up running protection for an identity-grifter named Erich who works for Burton. Timmy lives with Lydia, an older woman who rescued him after his mother had died. She also had worked for Amos Burton, as a prostitute. Their relationship is complicated: he protects her, but is also her lover. Timmy’s gift for violence is prodigious. He is taciturn to a fault. This impresses Burton.
On an assignment to protect Erich while he’s on a job, all hell breaks loose. The entire neighborhood is raided by the police/authorities and he, Lydia, and Erich are forced to flee the area and, likely, Burton’s ambit. Timmy had an island prepared where he spirits them away. He even manages to get Erich an identity-building kit. After Timmy has decapitated the organization by killing Burton, Erich uses the kit to rebuild the Amos Burton identity for Timmy, allowing him to escape off of Earth—but he can never return to Baltimore.
“The number of people who knew him and loved him could be counted on one hand and leave most of the fingers spare, and when he was gone, the city went on without him as if he had never been.”