By January 24, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

Nightwoods

Some times publicity works in reverse.

I am probably the only person on this site who has nor either read Cold Mountain or seen the film.  I have no excuses, just stating the facts. 

When I read the reviews for this novel, I knew the appeal factors contained within those raves made this book a perfect read for me.  This is a noir tale–and so much more.  There are many circles in this book and when the circles overlap things happen.  Luce is living in an abandoned lodge hiding from the town folk who remember how her inattentiveness in the past led to their town school being burnt to the ground.  The lodge has just been inherited by a man named Stubblefield who wanders into town unprepared for the effect of seeing his long fawned over beauty contest participant living on his property.  Luce has two children living with her, the mute twins of her dead sister Lily.  Lily’s ex-husband Bud has decided since a jury could not convict him of killing Lily, he might as well hunt down his kids and find his missing money.  All of these individuals come together in a town guarded by a deputy named Lit who had, has and will have a remarkable acquaintance with all the characters.

See those circles within circles?

Perhaps the plot would be enough to draw me in but Charles Frazier is a exquisite writer, able to make the best use of language while maintaining pace and tone in the novel.  The setting is bone chilling and the deep dark forest that provides the Nightwoods is as much a character as any person in the book.  His ability to translate a fairly tradition thriller-like plot into a work of literature makes this work able to be recommended to readers of James Dickey, Daniel Woodrell, Scott Phillips or James Lee Burke. 

Book discussion groups should be endlessly satisfied with this title.  It is so good it has made me vow to move Cold Mountain from the fiction section onto my TBR pile.

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About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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