Edge of Dark Water - Joe R Lansadale
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Mulholland Books
15 Mar 2012
From first to last, Joe R Lansdale’s Edge of Dark Water is the perfect encapsulation of the American South during the Depression, with that added zing all good plots and well-rounded, beautifully defined characters bring to a story so vital.
May Lynn was a pretty girl from a mean family who dreamed of becoming a film star. Now she's dead - her body dredged up from the Sabine River, bound with wire and weighted down. Her best friend, Sue Ellen, has a family meaner than May's and a yearning for something greater than she's been given. She thinks the least she can do for her friend is take her ashes to Hollywood, the place she'd always longed to be. But May Lynn's diary holds a secret: the location of a large sum of money. What seems like a stroke of fortune has disastrous consequences, and Sue Ellen's escape is about to get more complicated than she'd ever imagined.
Lansdale’s sense of place and time is impeccable. So subtle yet so “there” in its manifestation that the reader is immediately alongside Sue Ellen, Terry, Jinx and Helen, helping them catch fish and steer clear of danger as far as they can.
The characters, too, are a gift. Jinx, indeed, is the very personification of grit and determination that may well have been as evident in Rosa Parks’ DNA, such is her cock-suredness which never lapses into diatribe or cliché.
Sue Ellen too, though more subtly disposed, illustrates beautifully the underlying steel that Southerners had and, indeed, have when faced with adversity and is a credit to the author’s skill of composition that she never becomes a two-dimensional parody.
This is a superb exhibition, not only of crime fiction, but of prose writing and Joe R Lansdale should be lauded from the mountaintops for providing such a gem of a story.
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