JUNIOR’S LEG by Ken Wells


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A mildly interesting concoction from the author of Meely LaBauve (2000), this one featuring a down-and-out roustabout, a Mafia murder, and true love in the heart of a hard man, all of it fed through spicy regional dialect and local coloration.

As we meet Joseph “Junior” Guidry, he lies flat-out broke, drunk, and in despair after losing his leg in a Gulf of Mexico oil rig accident. He successfully sued the oil company with the help of his lawyer, Syd Shainburg, and won a $150,000 settlement, but Junior blew it on drinks, women, and cars. Now he’s waiting for something to come along that will change his situation. Through the bayou to Junior’s trailer in the Great Catahoula Swamp comes Iris Mary Parfait, who imposes herself into his life—cooking, cleaning, and slowly healing him—but promises to stay out of his “business.” The agreement doesn’t hold, and soon Iris reveals she is on the run from a bar owner with Mob connections. While tending to Rocko Marchante’s ailing mother, Iris saw the sexual terrors he inflicted on his women and was nearly subjected to them herself before she managed to injure Rocko and escape his horrific household. Just as Junior is starting to feel her pain and sharing some of his hurt with her, a “podnuh” shows up with news that Rocko has put a $100,000 bounty on Iris’s head. She’s captured, but Junior rescues her in a violent encounter that leaves Rocko and his men desperately wounded. Lawyer Shainburg shows up again, pulls some strings, does some research, and eventually brings down Rocko and the local Sheriff Ervil Geaux, leaving Junior and Iris free to marry and come to terms with their traumatic lives.

Consistently lukewarm plot and painfully tidy conclusion, but Junior’s character is strongly written, and Wells’s sense of place confers a pleasing authority to his Cajun-style prose.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 2001
ISBN: 0-375-50526-1
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2001


by Ken Wells