Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Review of Edge of Dark Water by Joe R Lansdale (Mulholland, 2012)
Edge of Dark Water is top draw country noir. Lansdale writes in engaging prose, with a strong narrator’s voice that makes it feel as if it’s a transcript of porch-told yarn. And that voice is very much that of sixteen year old girl coming of age. Lansdale does all the basics very well - character development, sense of place and time, dialogue and plot. The book is populated with real people, with the principles of Sue Ellen, the strong-willed, fast mouthed Jinx, and conflicted Terry, very well penned. Lansdale’s particularly good at creating a sense of foreboding and tension, and writes great action sequences and unpleasant endings without descending into gratuitousness. If you enjoyed Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell or Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, then Edge of Dark Water is in the same mold - Southern, rural, coming of age tales laced with noir. The story is not always perfect, and there are a couple of weak plot devices, but this is nonetheless superior storytelling. I loved it from the first page to the last.