A not-quite-funny-enough tale from Ryan (The Redneck Bride— not reviewed) of a fat, phony evangelist/sock peddler who takes a rare stab at doing good by attempting to get a mass murderer settled down deep in redneck territory. ``Brother Edgar,'' on the wintry side of 50 and somewhat off the sexual plumb line, tells the story himself in a grits-and- biscuits vernacular, often straying into anecdotage or speculation about the gullibility or cussedness of humanity. He saves The White River Kid when the killer is about to be shot down by fearful lawmen and soon becomes a father figure for the young man, who murders only those whose eyes tell him that they're not actually people but trapped gasses. Edgar drives him and his ruttish girlfriend down to a particularly benighted corner of Arkansas (or is it Texas?) where the girl's parents eke out an existence. On the way they encounter two murderous bullies, disposing of them with a little help from wild hogs. The girl's mother dresses like Elvis Presley, believing the late singer will rid her of cancer, and the father sits by the roadside prepared to sell rabbit hutches if a customer ever comes along. Edgar takes to this family and sticks around, hoping to ease the Kid into the ways of civilization. A born river-rat who can catch catfish with his bare hands and separate a snake from its head by cracking it like a whip, the youth proves to be hard to tame. Meanwhile, for Edgar, the delights of family life begin to pall. The reader will be as eager as any of the characters for a resolution when it finally comes. Outrageousness does not always translate into laughs in this southern gothic revamped as southern shtick.
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