February 13, 2012

The Bottoms ***

*** The Bottoms, Joe R Lansdale, 2001

This one won the Edgar award for Lansdale. The usual disclaimer applies, not as much as a Hap and Leonard book, but more than A Fine Dark Line. The story of a serial killer in 1934 East Texas back before the term was invented, told through the eyes of a pre-teen son of the constable.

The voice is perfect and the writing and characters are prime Lansdale material.

I felt it moved a bit slow for a thriller, with the investigation moving in fits and starts as circumstance advanced it. It came to a complete stop when Grandma showed up, and again when the father escaped in a bottle.

Normally, the hero would advance the plot, but the protagnist is a pre-teen kid who can't really advance the plot of a multiple murder investigation and the investigator is a backwoods constable with know training, experience or knowledge in how to investigate. Consequently, happenstance is the main engine to move things forward, which is not as satisfying as a pro-active protagonist.

I guessed the killer early on, but the writing was strong enough to carry the story even so.

Interesting that the book won the Edgar, as I wouldn't have thought of it as a potential winner. Maybe I should consider submitting Muffin Man.

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