Monday, October 02, 2017

The Long Count -- J. M. Gulvin

J. M. Gulvin is British, but his new book, the first in a series, is set in Texas in 1967, and the protagonist is a Texas Ranger named John Quarrie, mostly called John Q.  The book opens with the discovery by John Q., his son, and a friend of a skeleton in a wrecked train submerged in a river.  It moves quickly to the beating of a cop and the discovery of an apparent suicide.  John Q. knows at once that it's not a suicide, and the dead man's son, Isaac, doesn't believe it is, either.  The local cops, however, do.  

There are other deaths, and John Q., operating more like a p.i. than a Ranger, crisscrosses a lot of East Texas in his pursuit of answers.  One place his investigation takes him is Trinity Hospital, where Isaac's twin brother, Ishmael, was confined.  The hospital, which has burned, was an asylum for the criminally insane.  After the fire, Ishamel goes missing.  Developments like this give the novel a gothic air, and in fact the book, with is massive use of coincidence, seemed to me a kind of throwback to the pulp era of story telling.  This is, by the way, a compliment.

The Long Count is well-paced and a lot of fun, and I suspect that it and its sequels will find quite an appreciate audience.

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