Wednesday, November 20, 2019

DRY COUNTY by Jake Hinkson

"We all had our chance to do the right thing, and none of us took it."
Any new release by Jake Hinkson is a day one purchase and read for me. I'm a huge fan of his dark noirs that tell tales of complicated losers trying their best to dig themselves out of trouble and making a terrible job of it. While it might lack the manic energy of his earlier books, Dry County might be his most widely accessible book. But he never strays away from his usual tackling of taboo material. In this new novel, he brings together several members of a small Arkansas town, as they collide with each other in the wake of a respected local preacher's decision to pay off his former gay lover in exchange for silence.

There are no good guys or bad guys here as Hinkson passes no judgment on any of the players. Although there's a constant theme in his work critiquing the dangers and hypocrisies of religion, here it's done with a maturity where he just lets the characters loose with all their flaws and without commentary. And I as a reader was riveted as usual watching them desperately dig themselves deeper into their respective holes. Great, constantly entertaining work as usual.
"I'm drowning, and drowning men don't call out for God. They gasp for air."

CORROSION by Jon Bassoff

For a few minutes I wished that I were dead but then I worried about hell and what it would bring.
I would describe myself as an avid reader of noir and dark fiction. I feel like I've read lots of great work in these genres. But every now and then I find something that takes me by surprise. Author
Jon Bassoff has been on my radar for a while and I've finally made it to his work with this pitch black, mind-blowing debut noir.
Back up the mountain, shotgun over one shoulder, bride over the other. And now, forever, snow falling, wind howling, boots crunching, breath wheezing, devil laughing.
I don't want to talk too much about the story but it treads familiar waters in regards to content but in an original and creative way that makes it totally addictive and compulsively readable. From its fiery, crackerjack prose, its parallel POV structure, its evolving narrator, and its heavy themes, this is sly, sneaky, and nimbly controlled work that is constantly surprising as the revelations are slowly revealed. And most importantly, it's a brave examination of its troubled protagonists. This one puts Bassoff even more on my radar in a major way.
I used to not believe in God, his father has said, but now, I'm a changed man, a true believer. Only a Supreme Being could create such misery and mayhem.

AFTER THE STORM by Marietta Miles

Although she's published as a crime author, Marietta Miles once again fools everyone and defies all genre expectations, focusing on subtle, but all-too-human emotional conflict, showing the struggle to rebuild not only after physical and natural disasters, but personal, intimate ones as well. And in After The Storm, she shows that sometimes those efforts fail.

After The Storm is a follow-up to her previous May, and we follow May and Tommy sticking together after the devastating nor’ easter levels their lives and how their story intersects with two siblings fleeing a traumatic past. The book fits right into Miles’s growing body of work, concentrating on similar themes not just from May but also from her novella Route 12.