Nineteen-year-old Ed Kennedy is an underage taxi driver in an Australian suburb. He lives in a shack with his dog, the Doorman; plays cards in the evenings with his circle of friends; and is in love with his friend Audrey, who feels she cares too much about him to date him.
Ed's life of peaceful routine is interrupted when he accidentally stops a bank robbery. Shortly afterwards, he receives the first playing card in the mail. It's an Ace of Diamond with three addresses on it; three people live there that need Ed's help.
Throughout the novel, Ed receives different playing cards; each of them in an ace and contains clues to actions that he has to perform. The last card is the Joker. Will Ed manage to discover who's sending the cards?
I liked this novel, even though the ending sort of disappointed me. The narrator, Ed, is an underachiever who lives a quiet life, doing his job, meeting his friends to play cards, hoping that Audrey will give him the time of the day. His mother usually makes some sort of disparaging comment on him, while is father, an alcoholic, is dead. His two sisters are married, while his younger brother is attending university.
During the course of the novel, Ed is asked to help a number of people. For instance, he gives a way out to a woman with an abuisive husband; he comforts a lonely old lady; helps a priest to bring people to his church. While he finds a way to solve other people's problems, he also becomes more confident and in charge of his own life. In this regard, I am the Messenger is a sort of coming of age novel.
I was thoroughly unimpressed with the ending, which contains the solution to the mystery. I know other readers appreciated it, but it felt too much like a cop-out to me; almost as if the author couldn't find another way to explain things. It's unexpected, but not in a good way, in my opinion. Still, this is a very enjoyable novel, which could be also good for boys.
Cover attraction: the Alfred A. Knopf cover is all right, I guess, even though I'm not crazy about it. I prefer the Australian paperback you can see above. It's simple and dark (most of the book seems to take place at nights), with the joker and a few hearts on it. I think it would have been better if it had featured the other card suits as well, since this is not a romantic novel.