Somewhere in the wheat-happy Dakotas, a young man on the run from his own demons is stalked by a serial killer.
Charlie Krueger, beset as usual by the unregenerate drunk who happens to be his father, snaps at last, sticks a knife in the back of a molesting hand and takes off. He’s pursued, not by the ranting, infuriated father he’s pleased to note he no longer fears, and whose pursuit he half expects, but by an iniquitous embodiment of evil who calls himself the Windmill Man. Charlie knows too much, thinks his pursuer, and must be eliminated. Actually, the Windmill Man is wrong about what Charlie knows, but for him such niceties have long since become irrelevant. Only the mission matters, and besides, he’s grown attached to killing. In 1919, wheat rules throughout the heartland—hot markets, big prices—so a young man with a feeling for machinery has a lot going for him. Charlie qualifies: “Machines spoke to him. They told him all their problems.” In short order, he finds employment, new friends and a tough-minded, tender-hearted woman to love. What he doesn’t find, until it’s almost too late, is a way to cope with a relentless, remorseless madman convinced that blood-soaked earth is a gift to God.
Another good story from Thompson (Frag Box, 2009, etc.). The plotting is deft, and young Charlie is irresistible.