Turrill (An Apology for Autumn, 2004) delivers a terrific literary thriller that merges meditations on mortality with a fast-paced shoot-’em-up.
At 30, Tinker Balune doesn’t have much to live for: His mother is long dead, his preacher father has committed suicide and, worst of all, his lovely young wife Wendy was beaten to death with a baseball bat—and the murderer is his older brother, Satchel. Out at the family cabin on Loon Lake, Tin decides in a drunken stupor to end it all. Tin passes out before he can drown himself, and the next morning, he meets Moira, his lake neighbor Sweeney’s 18-year-old daughter. Remembering her as a kid, Tin decides life might be worth a try after a few conversations with the gorgeous, brilliant, nubile young woman. They spend an amiable afternoon of mutual attraction and soul-bearing. (Tin’s most pertinent confession: Satchel’s motive for killing Wendy was old-fashioned jealousy—the two were once happily engaged until Tin stole her away and confessed his love on the day of Satchel’s debut as a major-league pitcher, ruining Satchel’s future in every sphere.) When Tin and Moira arrive back at the cabins, they find Sweeney missing and a cryptic kidnapper’s note. They are sure that Satchel, who has evaded the law for years, now wants Tin and is using old Sweeney as the bait. After some clever decoding, the two head to Chicago (where their romance heats up and talk of fated love ensues) to await further instructions from Satchel. Imagine their surprise when Satchel and his girlfriend Moon show up at their hotel for what Satchel was told would be a reconciliation (he swears to Tin he didn’t kill Wendy). Who has Sweeney? Who killed Wendy? And who is that woman who keeps staring at them from the room across the street? An intricate tale of revenge, incest and murder sweeps Tin, Moira, Satchel and Moon around Chicago as all the clues fall into place, and just as the gun is placed to their heads.