Friday, April 13, 2012

Crimes in Southern Indiana - Under the Microscope

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This book is a bit like being punched. A few times. Frankly, it might be an old-fashioned beatdown. A country noir fashioned out of the broken lives of the down and out in Southern Indiana. Meth deals, insurance scams gone horribly wrong, a family land grab (on account of needing a location to hold an illegal fighting ring), human slavery: Frank Bill likes to chart those moments when things go wrong, when everything hangs in the balance and every life that falls into the water leaves wide ripples.

This is a dark and brutal book of vaguely interconnected stories. Almost too much for me, really. The writing lacks the luminosity of a Ron Rash, a William Gay, a Daniel Woodrell, and that may be part of it. Do I, as a reader, perhaps want more payoff for what I'm put through? And yet it can be haunting, as the choices made by the bad and the ugly, and the effect these choices have on the good and innocent left behind, seem to linger in the mind, a shadow on the world as the light fades. Though, of course, innocence is hard to find in these stories.


R.S. Bohn said...

His story, "Hill Clan Cross," was published in Playboy last year. It's the only one out of the anthology I've read, but I will say that it knocked my socks off. Enough to pick up the book and read the rest? No. That amount of brutality is not something I'd like to delve into for any longer length of time. I thought his style and skill were top notch, though. For the diehard noir community, this one's a home run.

Now if I can just get up the courage to start reading Justin Cronin's "The Passage." I haven't started because I heard that one is fairly intense, too.

Matthew MacNish said...

I've got no problem with the dark and brutal, but I like for there to be a point. Not saying you're saying there isn't, but you know, it came to mind.

Marsha Sigman said...

I like for there to be a point too with these types of stories but if he's shooting for realism, there usually isn't one.

The cover is incredible too.

Gina Gao said...

I've got no trouble with these kind of books. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Steve Abernathy said...

Just picked up Wm Gay's Twilight. Haven't read him and hope it's not a letdown.

Bryan Russell said...

@ Steve

It's funny, my copy of Gay's Twilight arrived in the mail yesterday. I'm expecting to like it, as I really enjoyed Provinces of Night.

Donna Hole said...

Hmm; I'm still intrigued. I could call it research into the bad guy . .

Thanks Bohn for the second review. Sounds like a book I'd like when I'm feeling a bit cynicle and sadistic.


Susan Kaye Quinn said...

These are the kinds of stories I can't read. They will haunt me. There's a reason I write children's fiction.

Bryan Russell said...

@ Susan

All you have to do is write MG country noir... sort of half gingerbread house/half meth house.

Bestseller for sure.