Monday, October 22, 2012

Review of Dust Devils by James Reasoner (Pointblank, 2007)

After a childhood living in foster homes, Toby McCoy has drifted south from Oklahoma to Texas seeking answers to his past.  He approaches a lonely farm, looking for work.  The woman living there alone is twice his age and nervy, but she agrees to take him on.  Over the next month they grow close, but both have their secrets.  The woman’s arrives in the form of two old friends intent on revenge.  After a gunfight, Toby and Dana are on the run with their two dogs, Max and Clifford, bound together through their developing relationship.  Their adventure, however, is only just starting as Dana tries to cut herself free from her past by confronting old demons.

The strong point of Dust Devils is the plotting, its strong noir undertones, and the characters of Toby and Dana.  The setup is very nicely done and the story continues at a nice, jaunty pace as the two principal characters seek to resolve their respective issues: Dana’s life of crime and Toby’s abandonment as a child and his mother fixation.  As they travel across Texas, the tale becomes ever darker, with the sense of foreboding growing, leading to a well played resolution.  Despite these pluses, the writing at times is quite flat, and despite a style that is mainly dialogue and action, it slips into tell rather than show at times.  The result is a nicely plotted story, told in a voice that is sometimes weak.  Nevertheless, Dust Devils is an enjoyable slice of country noir.

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