Friday, January 10, 2014

FFB: Midnight Road -- Jada M. Davis

Okay, I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "Crider's cheating again.  How can a book that's not even published yet be forgotten?"  You have a point.  But I have something better.  I have an explanation.  This is a forgotten book because it was written many years ago, and Stark House is just now bringing it into print.  Jada Davis, and you should know, is the author of a true noir classic, One for Hell, published by Fawcett's Red Seal line.  These were essentially Gold Medal books, but longer.  If Davis had continued to books like this, people would remember him the way they remember Jim Thompson today.  But he didn't.  Instead he went in another direction and wrote different kinds of books.  That didn't get published.  Which is a shame, because Davis was a heck of a writer, not matter what kind of story he was telling.  Thank goodness for publishers like Stark House that are willing to take a chance and publish an old manuscript and give the world a chance to read it.

As you know if you're a regular reader of this blog (and I'm sure you are), l'm a sucker for a good coming-of-age story.  Or even a bad one.  You don't have to worry about his one, though.  It's very good.  The setting is far West Texas in the '20s, small farms, small towns.  Davis makes it come alive with the kind of details that only someone who's lived it can.  Jeff Carr's in a tough situation with a father who knows he's not really his father, but his problems seem small compared to those of the neighbors where the patriarch, Old Trails, beats his son and tries to assault his daughter.  Carr is tough, brave, and sensitive, and the things he sees and does are all vividly portrayed.  There's life and death and sex and love and violence and tenderness.  The climax is a courtroom drama that's both suspenseful and funny.  In his blurb on the back cover, James Reasoner calls Midnight Road "a previously lost masterpiece."  I'm not going to argue.  It's coming in February from Stark House.

Aside and disclaimer: Jada Davis was the brother of the late Jack Davis, the man with whom I collaborated on my first novel, the infamous Nick Carter adventure called The Coyote Connection.  I interviewed Jada for Paperback Quarterly more than 30 years ago.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope you will nudge us again when the book does hit the stands next month....

- d. middleton