I’m a fan of crime fiction in many of its forms. Film, television, comics, and of course, novels. Though I don’t always know which books will satisfy my craving. This problem was solved recently with a visit to The Last Word Bookstore located in Halifax, NS.
I actually went in hoping to find a good Sci-Fi novel, but nothing had peaked my interest. So I went to the window display to see what was recommended, picked out a couple, and asked the shopkeep, an older gentleman playing cards with a little girl, which he would recommend. His enthusiasm, seeing I picked out The Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell, was immediately contagious. He did warn me this collection started out slow, but picked up steam quick enough. And assured me if I love crime fiction, that I have made a wise choice.
This is a collection of three novels set in the parish of St. Bruno, a Louisiana Swamp Town, centered on Detective Rene Shade, and the colourful yet dubious locals. Prostitutes, crooked politicians and cops, bar patrons, and an assortment of washed up, desperate locals. The books are Under The Bright Lights, Muscle For The Wing, and The Ones You Do. The author, Daniel Woodrell is most known for his novel Winter’s Bone, which was turned into an Award Winning film.
The character Rene Shade is the last good cop. Everyone in town is either familiar with his role as a flatfoot, or his failed boxing career, which half the town had lost their money on. He’s been in this town his whole life, and has deep roots. His brother operates a bar in town that caters to many of the morally ambiguous, that the detective runs into on the job. There relationship is at times strained.
The language feels very natural, making ample use of local slang. One comparison that comes to mind is Irvine Welsh. Whose books are always chalk-full of the local dialect, bordering on unreadable, but never quite crossing that line. This novel is nowhere near so difficult, but adds just enough colourful lingo to make the town feel like a character itself.
Without getting into plot specifics, this trilogy has just the right amount of mystery, violence, sex, and intrigue that make me love this genre so much. I have actually only finished the first two books in the trilogy, and could not resist sharing my zest for this fine piece of fiction. I have no doubt the last story will do no less than captivate. If you’re into Crime Fiction, or any fine fiction, give this one/these a read.