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A DEAD MAN'S TALE by James D. Doss Kirkus Star


by James D. Doss

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-61369-3
Publisher: Minotaur

A droll fandango between a man who hires an assassin for two bits and a man who predicts his own demise.

Granite Creek, Colo., is humming. The Crowbar Burglar is vandalizing homes. The head of the Oklahoma Chickasaw Blue Lizard Clan is in town to hire an assassin who’ll avenge his sister. And Prof. Samuel Reed, a scientist-entrepreneur, is laying bets that Police Chief Scott Parris and Ute rancher Charlie Moon won’t be able to keep him alive until his trophy wife Irene’s birthday next month. These are all minor complications, of course, compared to the havoc unleashed when Sarah, the teenager who fancies herself in love with Charlie, decides to play detective, and Charlie’s Aunt Daisy, who listens to a raven’s murmurs and a pitukupf’s warning, uses her walking stick as a cudgel and doesn’t regret the result. Since beef prices are going south, imperiling Charlie’s ranch, he hires on as the Chickasaw’s hit man and takes the 10-to-1 odds Reed is laying that he’ll be dead within a month. There will be whiffs of infidelity, a mysterious visit to a tattoo parlor, some technical mumbo-jumbo and storytelling that caresses the synapses before all is resolved and the reader has been challenged to review the concepts of time, alternate universes and unrelenting authorial mischief.

Top-flight work from Doss (The Widow’s Revenge, 2009, etc.), who can outplot most anybody and give cold-blooded miscreants a case of the giggles. Are you listening, awards committees?