As a child, in 1942, Tyler Ganzy witnessed business mogul Parker Webb murder the county sheriff Wallace “Bobo” Pollard. Now, in 1959, after serving in World War II and becoming a New York City journalist, Tyler Ganzy finds himself drawn back to his old stomping grounds in Alabama for an investigation on UFOs. This isn’t Tyler’s only reason to return home; Parker has found him in New York, dispatching goons to send Tyler a message in the form of a dead possum. Perhaps the biggest reason for Tyler’s homecoming is that he is still overwhelmed by memories of Iry Tuttle, a girl he loved who pushed him to better himself but who died of “natural causes” during the war. So, while Tyler tangles with Parker and reconnects with family and friends, he reminisces about his love affair with Iry. This gives the story a slightly unbalanced quality, with the mystery and danger that Tyler faces in 1959 seeming more like a frame for Tyler’s memories of the past: When any scene or sight can catapult Tyler into the past, the present feels less weighty and important. And while Tyler refers to Webb as his “nemesis,” readers may agree more with Tyler’s later evaluation of Parker as “a sickening cartoon villain.” While the mystery may not thrill, the comparison of 1942 to 1959 Alabama is rich and detailed, and many of the characters, including Tyler, are interesting and vivid, from the aged doorman at a fancy hotel to the trumpeter who tried to make it in New Orleans but got into some trouble. The writing occasionally seems overly dramatic (“Water induces reflection in the mind as well as the face”) but is generally clear and compelling.
A mystery with 3-D historical details and multilayered characters.