Thursday, May 24, 2018

Book Review: Willnot by James Sallis

Author: James Sallis
Publication: Bloomsbury USA (June 21, 2016)

Description: In his celebrated career, James Sallis has created some of the most finely drawn protagonists in crime fiction, all of them thoughtful observers of the human condition: Lew Griffin, the black New Orleans private investigator; retired detective John Turner; the unnamed wheelman in Drive. Dr. Lamar Hale will now join the ranks of Sallis's finest characters.

In the woods outside the town of Willnot, the remains of several people have suddenly been discovered, unnerving the community and unsettling Hale, the town's all-purpose general practitioner, surgeon, and town conscience. At the same time, Bobby Lowndes--his military records disappeared, being followed by the FBI--mysteriously reappears in his hometown, at Hale's door. Over the ensuing months, the daily dramas Hale faces as he tends to his town and to his partner, Richard, collide with the inexplicable vagaries of life in Willnot. And when a gunshot aimed at Lowndes critically wounds Richard, Hale's world is truly upended.

In his inimitably spare style, James Sallis conjures indelible characters and scenes that resonate long after they appear. "You live with someone year after year, you think you've heard all the stories," Lamar observes, "but you never have."

My Thoughts: Dr. Lamar Hale is a general practitioner and surgeon in the small town of Willnot - home to a variety of eccentrics. Lamar knows all the secrets and accepts everyone for who they are. When a gravesite containing a number of remains is discovered, the town and Lamar are unnerved. The return of Bobbly Lowndes from the Marines also is unsettling. Lamar has known him since he was a child. Then the FBI comes looking for Bobby.

While all these things are happening, Lamar goes about his daily business taking care of the people in the town and just living life with his partner Richard. Lamar's father was an author who hung around with many of the stars of the 50s and 60s and Lamar shares stories about them with Richard. I liked some of the stories about authors I grew up reading.

This was an engaging story but very literary and quite the opposite of action-packed. It was a thoughtful of about a year in Lamar and Richard's life. The beginning mystery of the discovered bodies was never resolved. Neither was Bobby's story.

Read this one for the language and descriptions and the relationships within the town and with Lamar.

Favorite Quote:
The site suggested a cross between a spectacularly disorganized Boy Scout campout, a sweat-your-way-to-glory religious revival, and a tent sale for big-box electronics. As though all three had mistakenly rented out the same space for the weekend and each refused to budge.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. Hadn't heard of this on the blogs till now.


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