Heard: Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale, 2012, Overdrive.com download 9781611131635.
Ever since I accepted my parent's old treadmill I've cut down on outdoor exercise. Because of this I have been listening to fewer audiobooks. When walking or running on the treadmill I can watch TV and movies on my Kindle tablet and rarely listen to audiobooks.
A stand alone novel by Lansdale. Three teenagers in 1930s East Texas decide to take the ashes of their pretty - and obviously dead - friend to Hollywood. Just like you knew Hap and Leonard were never going to finish that Mexican cruise in Captains Outrageous. Edge is a road movie set on the Sabine River. I suppose Edge is also a combined riff on the Odyssey and Huck Finn but I've not read the Odyssey since college so I could be wrong on that.
Anyhoo. Sue Ellen is on the riverside with her friend Terry as Sue Ellen's drunken, violent father and her uncle are fishing with poison. They toss bags of nuts into the river, the nuts leach out into the water and stun the fish, the stunned fish are scooped up by Lout and Uncle Lout. The fishing net sticks on something and pulls up a sewing machine wired onto May Lynn's leg. Well, that explains why Sue Ellen and Terry have not seen May Lynn in a while.
Lout and Uncle Lout want to throw May Lynn's rotting corpse back in the water. Sue Ellen objects and the local law show up. Local Law doesn't want to do a damn thing either. May Lynn's drunken father is out-and-about and May Lynn goes into a Potter's Field. May Ellen, Terry, and their friend Jinx get to talking. They find May Lynn's diary and learn May Lynn's also-dead bank-robbing brother buried some money. May Ellen suffers under a drugged up mother and about-to-get-rapey father and has nothing to stay for. Terry is both smart and gay and therefore does not fit in. Jinx is black - unless she follows her father North she's got no reason to stay. They join forces to cremate May Lynn and use the cash to travel West.
Things happen. May Ellen's mother leaves with them. They are pursued by Uncle Lout and Local Law. Real life boogy-man Skunk is hired to find them. Skunk doesn't bring people back, he brings their hands back. Various adventures take place with danger and close-calls. Except for the dead people everyone seems to be doing okay at the end.
This works as both YA novel as well as adult fiction.
1. Similes come as fast and quick as a [simile].
2. Recurring Lansdale theme of how being a woman or black person in the 1930s meant your life was extra tough. It also meant violent death was a constant possibility.
3. Lansdale continues his dialogue expertise.
4. Lansdale continue to cover social issues without preaching or pontificating. His characters are real people.