HAINTS STAY by Colin Winnette


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Life is nasty, brutish, and short in this noir-tinged Western about a pair of coldblooded killers out on the trail.

After exploring domestic drama earlier this year, Winnette (Coyote, 2015, etc.) returns with something completely different in this blood-spattered Western that falls somewhat uncomfortably between Deadwood and The Crying Game. We’re immediately introduced to Brooke and Sugar, two brothers who have survived a childhood of horrific abuse and now make their livings as contract killers. Brooke is brusque but profanely efficient, while the sickly Sugar is more fragile but articulate. “Well, I’m a student of history,” Sugar says, “and any observant man can see that power is like a gold coin. Some men squander it, throw it away on nothing worth noticing. Others simply lose it to a world that’s much hungrier for it than they are. Others still dedicate their lives to holding onto it. And some die, coin in hand, surrendering it only to the men who bury them.” After a skirmish in town, they find themselves on the run through the woods, where they meet a 13-year-old they name Bird, who has no memory of his own past. It sounds like a cross between Daniel Woodrell and Elmore Leonard right up until Winnette flips the script: Sugar is no brother at all but instead biologically a woman who was raised and identifies as a man. And that nausea and convulsions he’s having? Yep, Sugar is pregnant with her own brother’s child. It’s a pretty raw set of circumstances, treated matter-of-factly, but Winnette portrays his serial killers with an odd grace and punctuates his circular narrative with murders, revenge killings, a shooting spree, and a heroic arc for wannabe gunslinger Bird that is broadly, darkly humorous.

That title is a Southern colloquialism for “lost soul,” and Winnette certainly sends his hard men down some long, dark roads.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-937512-32-3
Page count: 212pp
Publisher: Two Dollar Radio
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2015


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