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.