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CRIPPLE CREEK by James Sallis Kirkus Star


by James Sallis

Pub Date: April 4th, 2006
ISBN: 0-8027-3382-4
Publisher: Walker

Dodging trouble, ex-cop, ex-con J. Turner has run to one of those small towns that time forgot (Cypress Groves, 2003), but trouble finds him, since, as Turner himself likes to say, “No one is exempt.”

When Sheriff Don Lee and Deputy Turner check out the trunk of a spaced-out speeder, they find a stolen $200,000. Soon enough, the rightful owners—hard cases from Memphis with little interest in finesse—come after it. Gunned down, Sheriff Lee hovers near death, and Turner, whose unwritten code is set in stone, sees no choice but retaliation. In Memphis, he calls in favors, generates the requisite intelligence, takes out a couple of bad guys and heads home, confident that the deadly game of vendetta he’s started will continue till most of the participants have checked out. He’s right, but he’s not entirely prepared for retaliation from his antagonists, people schooled in an old and bloody tradition. They understand that lasting hurt is best derived from collateral damage, and that Turner, formidable though he is, has more vulnerable loved ones.

As usual with Sallis, you don’t get a lot of plot. What you get instead are characters to engage the mind and heart and some of the most flavorful writing crime fiction has to offer (“cordovan shoes so highly polished it looked like he was walking on two violins”).