From Publishers Weekly
Part police procedural, part piercing psychological character study, Collins's latest novel revolves around a series of lurid murders that threaten the equilibrium of the unstable cop who investigates the killings, as well as the unnamed Midwestern town where they take place. The narrator is Lawrence, an erratic, disgruntled cop who finds the body of a three-year-old girl while on patrol on Halloween night. The initial investigation indicates that the girl was killed in a hit-and-run accident by high school quarterback Kyle Johnson; as the evidence begins to pile up, the police chief and mayor pressure Lawrence to help cover up Johnson's role in the crime. Lawrence goes along, but is seized by guilt and takes off on his own, keeping watch over the mother of the dead child. Then Johnson's girlfriend, Cheryl Carpenter, is found murdered soon after the child's death. As more killings ravage the town, Lawrence becomes both suspect and potential victim in a bizarre series of plot twists. Collins's style, which alternates between the clipped prose of a cop novel and some surreally introspective passages, gives the book the prose feel of a David Lynch film. Exposing the seedier elements of smalltown life, the author continues to successfully mine the same territory that got his first novel, The Keepers of Truth
, shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
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On Halloween night in a dead-end town in Indiana, local cop Lawrence discovers the body of a three-year-old girl, dressed as an angel, who appears to be the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Called into a private meeting with the mayor, Lawrence is told to steer the investigation away from a star athlete, who is set to quarterback a championship game. But as the investigation spirals out of control, the body count mounts, and Lawrence discovers an astounding level of hypocrisy at work among the town's most prominent citizens. Irish expatriate Collins (The Resurrectionists,
2000) continues his bleak dissection of small-town America. He brings an outsider's perspective and a cunning use of detail to his portrait, as well as a moving characterization of a lonely cop, blindsided by a contentious divorce, who is struggling to adjust to a diminished quality of life. Every character, from the drug dealer to a harsh religious zealot, is a comment on how the American way of life has failed to deliver on its promise. A finely crafted novel written with intelligence and grace. Joanne WilkinsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved