Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SALT RIVER by James Sallis Kirkus Star

SALT RIVER

By James Sallis

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8027-1617-0
Publisher: Walker

Elegy time approaches for Cypress Grove, Tenn., and maybe for its sheriff too.

“The town doesn’t have much left,” thinks sometime Sheriff John Turner as he sits staring out at it. There’s not a lot left in himself either, he adds bleakly, too wise for self-indulgence. With the town, it’s simple economics. The jobs have gone elsewhere. In Turner’s case, the reasons are subtler, more complex, but one thing is certain: he’s “seen a few too many people die.” Not long after this melancholy thought crosses his mind, Billy Bates, his car clearly out of control, crashes fatally into City Hall. Was the car his? Was the smash-up the accident that it first seems? And what has sweet-natured but harebrained young Billy been up to in the months he was away from Cypress Grove? Turner addresses himself to these questions because an honest man does what’s required of him, but clearly his heart isn’t in it. He’d rather live inside his memories of his girlfriend Val, whose sudden death has changed him irrevocably. Even so, the thing that made Turner a special cop remains at his core and pushes him to get answers.

Sallis (Cripple Creek, 2006, etc.) is never about plot, but always about good writing. This little gem is a case in point.