Tuesday, September 22, 2009

'Cripple Creek' Explores the Fickle Nature of Fate and Fortune

Review: CRIPPLE CREEK (Walker & Company 2006)
Author: James Sallis

In CRIPPLE CREEK, James Sallis' protagonist John Turner has become somewhat entrenched in the small Southern community he came to know in the previous Turner novel, CYPRESS GROVE. Turner, an ex-cop, ex-con and lapsed therapist, who helped the local sheriff solve a crime in the first book, is now a deputy with all that position's attendant status and responsibilities. Turner's also acquired a family (if only a de facto one, at first) in this sequel, including his girlfriend, attorney Val Bjorn, his staunch buddy Sheriff Lonnie Bates, the redoubtable curmudgeon and local sawbones/mortician Doc Oldham and, eventually, a blood relative.

The story is ostensibly about solving a violent crime committed against a fellow deputy and office assistant, after someone springs an arrestee from lock-up – a guy caught rolling through town drunk with around two grand stashed in his car. Turns out the arrestee's connected to some heavies from Memphis, Turner's old stomping grounds. So Turner heads back to the big city to find out who's responsible and dispense justice his own way. Turner's foray stirs up a hornet's nest of bad guys, putting him at risk for a potentially deadly payback. Thus, the novel is deftly transformed from cop story to suspense/thriller.

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