A SMALL AND INCIDENTAL MURDER by John Walter Putre

A SMALL AND INCIDENTAL MURDER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Impressive first novel involving drudgers and tongers (two types of oyster catchers) and the murder of one of them on a small Chesapeake Bay island. When Ellis LeCates asks old diving buddy Doll to visit and see whether there's anything fishy about the boat that exploded and killed local fisherman LeRoy Carrow, he neglects to mention that he's in love with Carrow's widow, Elaine; that LeRoy may have salted the property of Covey Wallace, who was planning to sell out to a developer; that Carrow's son Farron hated his father for catting around Baltimore; and that the locals wouldn't trust him or talk to him, he being an outsider. Still, Doll manages to sort his way through a real-estate agent's come-ons, a day out eeling with Captain Page and his crew, and several run-ins with the town loudmouth, Gerry Vaughn, son of yet another property broker. As townsfolk slowly reveal their neighbors' secrets, Doll keeps asking Elaine whether she wants him to quit investigating. In the end, the sad revelations touch almost everyone on island, while Doll, rather like a watery Shane, leaves town alone. Gritty island dialogue, with a quiet understanding of small-town mechanics/mores. Tough, unsentimental, and talented.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Scribners