The first in a planned series of mystery novels about the tangled lives and deaths in the fictional Midwestern burg of Countyseat.
In his debut novel, Adam draws a violent landscape peopled with folksy small-town types—villains as well as a few questionably heroic heroes, with colorful names such as Leslie Towny, Simple Simon and Ellicott Baker. It’s 1973, and the midsummer air is heavy with the Watergate hearings broadcasts and the shimmering discontent of small-town rivalry, the sounds of baseball, that most American of team sports, and the smell of rotting bodies. In a whirlwind of plot twists, various denizens of Countyseat meet their fates—some gruesome, some amusing, some a bit of both—at the hands of a purported “murder cult.” Meanwhile, other “benchwarmers” strive to solve the mounting mysteries. Mayor Dunmore, the patriarch of the local ruling elite, lurks hither and yon as young love blossoms in the midst of all the murder and mayhem. Entertaining as it is, this tome is so sprawling and densely packed with characters and incidents that the author should have taken a tip from Tolkien—or the dearly departed crime writer Reginald Hill—and supplied readers with an appendix with a detailed map and a comprehensive genealogical chart. While there’s more than a hint of David Lynch in the world of Countyseat, the author’s playful, satiric tone throughout and his fine-tuned ear for aw-shucks regionalisms make this a fine tale for readers with ample free time—and eidetic memories.
An engaging, slightly surreal mystery story.