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The Bayou Trilogy: Under the Bright Lights, Muscle for the Wing, and The Ones You Do Paperback – Bargain Price, April 28, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books; 1 edition (April 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316133655
  • ASIN: B0091LRWFA
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #990,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Collected in a single volume for the first time, Woodrell's three stellar novels featuring Det. Rene Shade, an ex-boxer turned cop, provide entrée into the Louisiana swamp town of Saint Bruno, a place where "tempers went on the prowl and relief was driving a hard bargain." Woodrell (Winter's Bone) injects Shade's life and various cases with both humor and brutal violence. In Bright Lights (1986), the investigation into a city councilman's murder mushrooms into a corruption scandal, with Shade feeling pressure from above for a quick—and predetermined—result. Muscle for the Wing (1988) finds Shade up against a gang of ex-cons, hell-bent on wrestling control of Saint Bruno's less-than-legal action. Shade and his two brothers—bar owner Tip and district attorney Francois—are reunited with their long-absent paterfamilias, John X., in The Ones You Do (1992), in which John X. returns to Saint Bruno with a 10-year-old daughter and a killer on his trail. There's poetry in Woodrell's mayhem, each novel—and scene—full of gritty and memorable Cajun details. (Apr.)
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"Woodrell writes drolly and pungently of rednecks and swamp rats with the affection and exasperation of a man who has spent his life among them ... The Bayou Trilogy stands with the best crime fiction of its period." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch )

"Old fans and new readers alike out to be grateful....The novels showcase Woodrell's evolution as a writer....Woodrell's The Bayou Trilogy supplies all the pleasure of hard-boiled noir: laconic cynicism, casually colorful characters (a diner owner, for instance, is described as having 'slightly more than a basic issue of a nose') and a hero whose feet of clay make his dedication to law and order all the more admirable." (Chicago Tribune )

"There's poetry in Woodrell's mayhem, each novel-and scene-full of gritty and memorable Cajun details." (Publishers Weekly, starred review )

"Really cool . . . Jump on these three top-shelf books." (Library Journal )

"The Bayou Trilogy is more than a landmark of crime fiction; it is an impressive and important addition to American letters. Bravo, Daniel Woodrell, and long live Rene Shade." ( )

"What people say about Cormac McCarthy . . . goes double for [Woodrell]. Possibly more." (New York Magazine )

A backcountry Shakespeare . . . The inhabitants of Daniel Woodrell's fiction often have a streak that's not just mean but savage; yet physical violence does not dominate his books. What does dominate is a seasoned fatalism . . . Woodrell has tapped into a novelist's honesty, and lucky for us, he's remorseless that way." (Los Angeles Times )

"Daniel Woodrell writes in sentences that could be ancient carvings on a tree." (Chicago Tribune )

"Woodrell is the least-known major writer in the country right now." (Dennis Lehane, USA Today )

"Daniel Woodrell has quietly built a career that whould be the envy of most American novelists today." (Washington Times )

"Poetic prose and raw dialogue . . . dark-hued suspense." (Washington Post Book World, on Under the Bright Lights )

"A gritty, atmospheric slice of crime fiction . . . a superior piece of narrative noir." (Kirkus, on Under the Bright Lights )

"Vitality pulses from this perfectly paced book . . . a flawless novel." (San Francisco Examiner, on Under the Bright Lights )

"Sly and powerful." (John D. MacDonald, on Under the Bright Lights )

"As steamy as the bayou country that is its setting." (The Washington Post Book World, on Under the Bright Lights )

"Daniel Woodrell is stone brilliant--a Bayou Dutch Leonard, steeped in rich Louisiana language. Muscle for the Wing is vicious, colloquial, dark and--most surprisingly--brutally funny. To read it is to enter a superbly realized universe of surprises." (James Ellroy, author of LA Confidential and Blood's A Rover )

"Off-the-wall characters, quirky and bizarre, yet as authentic as any I've ever met in a novel. Woodrell succeeds--in fact triumphs . . . and spins a hell of a yarn to boot." (The Washington Post Book World, on Muscle for the Wing )

"The colorful characters and piquant tongues in which they speak . . . really have us swooning . . . All offer hot-breathed testimony to the human gumbo that is St. Bruno." (The New York Times, on Muscle for the Wing )

"Woodrell does for the Ozarks what Raymond Chandler did for Los Angeles or Elmore Leonard did for Florida." (LA Times, on Muscle for the Wing )

"Characters as screwy and dangerous as any in Elmore Leonard, as a sense of pace and language that never warns you whether a scene or sentence will end in a burst of poetry or a hail of bullets." (Kirkus, on The Ones You Do )

"Deeply atmospheric and oozing with the mojo of the swamp . . . Woodrell's work echoes that of William Kennedy, William Faulkner, and Walter Mosley . . . Fine writing." (The Chicago Tribune, on The Ones You Do )

"The pages snap, crackle, and pop. Woodrell's writing reminds me of the late, great John D. MacDonald, the kind of keen eye for the local detail, but he walks his own walk and talks his own talk." (Barry Gifford, on The Ones You Do )

Customer Reviews

Wonderfully written and an engrossing read, Woodrell has a gift for story and prose.
And they, in turn, were joined by a chorus of critics who couldn't find a thing to criticize about Woodrell's work, but found all kinds of reasons to believe in it.
John Hood
The fact that the game is attended by the town's hoi polloi --- including the St. Bruno mayor --- attaches even greater significance to the event.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Shelleyrae TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
"This was Frogtown, where the sideburns were longer, the fuses shorter, the skirts higher and expectations lower, and he loved it"

On the steamy and seedy shores of the Louisiana Bayou, Detective Rene Shade walks a fine line between law and loyalty in Saint Bruno where he was born and raised. This trilogy combines three loosely connected stories of crime and justice in the shadows of Frogtown and Pan Fry.
The first story, Under the Bright Lights, has Shade, and his partner How Blanchette, investigating the murder of a city councilman. The Mayor would be happiest if the whole business could be blamed on a trigger happy burglar, but it's not how Shade sees it going. The Councillor's death seems to be linked to a power play in the criminal underbelly that is in danger of triggering a war. Shade chases his suspects right into an armed confrontation in the middle of the Marais du Croche, a swamp beset by lethal cottonmouths and hungry crocodiles.
Muscle of the Wing partners a reluctant Detective Shade with a boyhood friend, Shuggie Zeck, whose business interests are being devalued by a mysterious gang of hold up men. In a town where payback and kickbacks grease the system for politicians and criminals alike, Shade can read between the lines of his Captains orders. This investigation isn't about justice so much as vengeance.
In The Ones You Do (Criminentlies), Detective Shade is brooding over his 90-day suspension when his father, the legendary John X Shade returns to the city with a daughter and annoyed ex associates in tow. This tale features the Shade family, itself a microcosm of the environment they live in. These eccentric characters underscore the themes of loyalty, redemption and belonging that flow through the trilogy.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
There is no doubt that Woodrell is the iconic voice of rural America, "a backcountry Shakespeare" who captures the fluidity of language, character and lifestyle in novels that ring with authenticity and the daily violence of hardscrabble existence. This trilogy highlights three novels: Under the Bright Lights, Muscle for the Wing and The Ones You Do, stories connected by place, St. Bruno, Louisiana, the Shade family and other assorted characters. Francois Shade is a rising star in the DA's office; Tip runs the Catfish Bar, a club that caters to the criminal element as well as locals; and Rene, a St. Bruno detective who takes his job seriously. The Shade family skeleton is John X., the paterfamilias who makes an appearance in The Ones You Do, with a reputation as a ne'er-do well and a raft of excuses for a profligate life, best acquainted with abandonment and callous opportunism for all his sly humor: "It ain't the ones you do you regret, but the ones you don't."

The most common (and likable) character in the Bayou Trilogy is Rene Shade, a man who hews to the tenets of law enforcement, dancing around the notion of marriage with his very independent girlfriend. It is Rene, usually referred to as Shade, who walks us through the treacherous territory of colorful local history and a thriving criminal element that is often as violent as it is ill-conceived, a lifestyle bred of opportunity and immediate gratification. The cast is an indelible mix of personalities, from the brutal and venal to the needy and alcohol-hazed, men and women who live near the edge and by their wits. These folks are honed by experience and poverty, the lure of easy money and the high cost of doing business with killers.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By exscribe on May 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
Some writers have the gift to write dialogue so good you hoot first, then immediately want to write it down or mark up the book with highlighter. When George Pelecanos is really bringing it, whether in his novels or the scripts for the greatest TV show ever, The Wire, his work has that quality. Well, in one man's not so humble opinion, Daniel Woodrell can match up one-on-one with the masters of the genre, and I'm even willing to throw in Leonard and Chandler.
Other reviewers have gone into great detail about the trilogy's plot lines, so there is no reason to go over the same ground. The point I want to make is if you love great characters, some truly idiosyncratic descriptions of places, and, yes, marvelous dialogue, get this book immediately. And what makes it even better, the price is ridiculously low to have such a fine time.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Hood on June 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
SunPost Weekly May 19, 2011 | John Hood

Daniel Woodrell Writes the Lives Behind its Crimes

As the Atchafalaya River Basin begins to flood one can't help thinkin' that maybe the authorities have read Daniel Woodrell and come away believin' the folks who live in that swampy stretch of nowhere don't deserve saving as much as everybody else. That's a mean thing to consider, of course, let alone to say right out loud for everyone to hear. But had you just waded through Woodrell's wrenchingly-drenched tales of the Zeus-forsaken place, well, it's a cinch you'd get that notion your own self. Why? Because the people Woodrell writes into being are about as mean and as nasty a bunch that have ever been put to page. And that's saying something indeed.

My cruel supposition is based on a collection called The Bayou Trilogy (Mulholland Books $16.99), which takes three of Woodrell's first four books and puts `em into one heaping helping of unmitigated ugly.

Individually the tales are Under the Bright Lights (1986), Muscle for the Wing (`88) and The Ones You Do (`92). When each was initially released, writers as wily as John D. MacDonald, James Ellroy and Barry Gifford stepped up and sang their respective praises. And they, in turn, were joined by a chorus of critics who couldn't find a thing to criticize about Woodrell's work, but found all kinds of reasons to believe in it.

Since then there have been awards (including a `96 PEN USA for Tomato Red; an `08 Edgar for "Uncle"), and a slew of New York Times Notable Books, among them `06's Winter's Bone, which was made into the same-named flick that earned four Oscar nominations and a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
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