DAYS OF ATONEMENT by Walter Jon Williams


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 From the author of the splendid Voice of the Whirlwind (1987) and the less pleasing Angel Station (1989), a mainstream- ish tale of a traditional New Mexico police chief propelled headlong into a future he can barely understand. Loren Hawn, police chief of the art-deco town of Atocha- dedicated, religious, often brutal toward criminals-faces trouble as the town's major employer, the copper mine, abruptly closes; the out-of-town workers at ATL, a secretive physics research establishment, don't mingle with the locals. Then a bullet- riddled car crashes on the steps of police HQ; out staggers a local rancher only to expire bloodily in Loren's arms. Problem: the same rancher died in Loren's arms 20 years ago after a car crash. Circumstantial evidence links the dead man to ATL, but Loren's inquiries are sabotaged by ATL's security chief, William Patience and his henchmen, and the explanation behind the appearance of the twice-dead man, Loren's faith in his church, in the patronage/payoff system that sustains the town, and in his own colleagues and allies crumbles. Much of this-the complex yet logical puzzles, the small-town New Mexico ambience, the gritty realism-is rousing, vintage Williams. What won't appeal to the kinder, gentler sections of the audience are the local of feminine interest, the callous monomania displayed by most of the cast, and the gratuitously overblown violence of the windup.

Pub Date: March 18th, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-85118-9
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1991


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