Sunday, July 08, 2007

Cripple Creek -- James Sallis

Turner is an ex-cop, an ex-con, and an ex-psychotherapist. Now he's a deputy sheriff in a very small Tennessee town. A big-city thug is stopped for speeding, and his pals break him out of jail. Turner goes after them, bringing some real violence home, in the form of professional hitmen.

If that sounds like a standard plot, believe me, it's not. Not the way Sallis tells it. It's just incidents folded in with many other incidents of life and death in the small town. Life as it's lived mingles with memories of times past, people (and possums) come and go, past and present flow together. There's some trickery at the end, when Sallis skips ahead a couple of days, only to return to the time he passed over. The result is a darker ending than you thought was coming. The big confrontation never happens. That is, it does, but it's offstage, and you're never sure exactly what it was.

Everybody seems to think Sallis's Lew Griffin novels are his best work. I'm not so sure that the two novels (so far) about Turner don't top them. Check this one out and see what you think.

1 comment:

Gerard said...

I read "Drive" by Sallis. I remember that, too, having things happen offstage, or in briefly narrated flashbacks.