- File Size: 756 KB
- Print Length: 242 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Broken River Books (December 21, 2013)
- Publication Date: December 21, 2013
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00HGLBQDG
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,641 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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PECKERWOOD is hardboiled crime fiction, rural noir as back-alley-bar balls, and as twisty full-metal gonzo as the plots are, ultimately you don't read them for plot, or even character, you read them for voice. You read them for those shivery little pleasure pellets of prose, like miniature cocaine bombs, that bounce off the walls of your blood vessels with every page.
And PECKERWOOD, I'm pleased to say, has got voice. I picture author Jedidiah Ayres as that slumped-over day-drinking drunk at the end of the bar who may look like the saddest sack in the solar system, but once you take the stool next to him, he stirs and straightens up a little and sticks a Pall Mall in his mouth and starts telling you stories. And you sit up straight with your shot of Wild Turkey and and you think, "Man, this dude has lived some life and seen some things and been through the bowels of Hades in a blender with rusty blades, but he can still smile a little and stand back from it all just enough to have a sense of humor about it." And you find yourself ordering another drink, and ordering him another drink, and suddenly in no hurry at all to get home to the missus or back to the office because you're laughing your pancreas off and your jaw is janking off the top of the bar and you're listening to him talk and thinking about roadhouses you wish you hadn't driven past and women you wish you'd made a move on years ago and chances you wish you took. And then you light up a Pall Mall and are stunned by how pleasant it tastes before you realize you don't even smoke, and you want to hit the road with this guy and hold up liquor stores and let large amounts of daylight into milk bottles and mailboxes with guns you don't have.
"He wanted Chowder to run pussy and dope in a regulated environment without competition and unnecessary violence, without women disappearing forever or only to be found later in various states of decomposition."
Well, OK, I guess plot does matter, just as you hope that the entertaining drunk's stories have a point somewhere on the horizon. Suffice it to say that in the finest rural-noir tradition, it involves pussy and dope and bent law enforcement and biker gangs and bodies in trunks and blackmail and bathroom-stall beatings and betrayal and parking-lot sex and pink mist like water balloons, all in a small town in Missouri somewhere not too far from the Arkansas state line. It involves bad people who love their family members with stunning tenderness and fingers not too far from their butts of their Glocks.
And it's all pretty amazing good.
And it's got a voice that will cut open your tongue and pour tequila all over it:
"Agent Harris was dead before he hit the ground. His face had nothing behind it anymore. What used to be there was all over the man to Jimmy's left. The pulp-blinded agent dove to the ground to avoid more bullets while he scooped his boss out of his eyes."
Yeah. Want another shot of Wild Turkey, pal?
Ayres writes lean yet powerful prose, rumbling with ominous thunder as he weaves the complexity of the story with a fine attention to detail and a clear mastery of plotting and foreshadowing. While we sense early on that bad situations are only going to get worse, the author successfully keeps you wondering which characters are going to make it out of this book alive, and his violent climax is all the more breathless because of it.
Fans of Harry Crews and Jim Thompson take note. Peckerwood is dirty south crime lit in the grandest tradition.