Thursday, May 05, 2011

Books: Under the Bright Lights by Daniel Woodrell

Under the Bright LightsUnder the Bright Lights by Daniel Woodrell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first novel in Mullholland Books recently reissued volume of the early work of Daniel Woodrell is a haunting and atmospheric crime novel set in the deep south, with echoes of Cormac McCarthy and James Lee Burke. The story is split into dual storylines, with one following the crooks as they murder a prominent African-American politician and also the owner of a adult film theater. The other narrative follows Rene Shade, the main character, a detective and ex-boxer who lives above the pool room run by his mother. Shade and all of the other characters on this novel are haunted by the small town in which they live, where the neighborhood you came from made all the difference in your life and people are scarred forever by the reputations they picked up in their youth. Much like the work of Irish crime writer Ken Bruen, the focus of the story is on the characters rather than the actual crime. We know "who done it" from the beginning and the story follows Shade's investigation and the slow unraveling of the criminals as they turn on one another. This was a superior story, at times bleak, and at times very funny. Recommended to those who like deeply atmospheric crime drama or Americana. The Bayou Trilogy: Under the Bright Lights, Muscle for the Wing, and The Ones You Do -

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