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Posted on January 28, 2010 at 1:23 PM by Lisa Miyako
I picked up James Sallis's Cypress Grove when I went into the Mystery stacks looking for books by Georges Simenon. I can't explain what about the title or the spine or maybe the author's name compelled me to pick the book off the shelf and read the blurb on the inside cover. But I did. And the following sentence tugged on my imagination: "The small town where Turner has moved is one of America's lost places, halfway between Memphis and nowhere."
Turner, an ex-cop, an ex-psychotherapist, and an ex-con, is a quiet man looking for peace in a small, unnamed Tennessee town. When a particularly gruesome murder occurs, Sheriff Lonnie Bates shows up with a bottle of Wild Turkey and a request for help.
Although this novel is found in the mystery genre at our library, Sallis has revealed more about the mystery of an individual human being, and I found myself more interested in how prison affected Turner than in solving the murder (and then there was a second murder). Sallis writes from Turner's point-of-view:
Doors slamming shut and locks falling: you never forget that sound, the way it makes you feel. That was something waiting in my own future, something I'd get used to, inasmuch as one ever does. Looking back even now, a familiar horror clutches at my throat, squeezes my heart in its fist.
If you've ever been haunted by a person or an event, you might appreciate what Turner has described about sound.
Being a city gal, I am sometimes pulled to the mystique of small towns, which, probably folks from small towns would laugh at, probably say that there is no "mystique," that the whole point of a small town is that there is no such thing as a secret. Even so, I enjoyed Sallis's story, and if Turner becomes a series character, I will read those books.
I liked Cypress Grove -- and, in particular, James Sallis's prose -- so much that I am going to check out his other books. I did a search of his titles in the PLS catalogue, and you can see those results by clicking here .
Reviewed by Lisa Miyako
Tag(s): "Cypress Grove" "James Sallis" "small town" mystery fiction "book review"
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