On his last day in power, with a blizzard threatening 18 inches of snow, Sheriff Bittersmith's is called to the scene of a crime. A farmer has been stabbed clean through the neck with a pitchfork. Two sets of tracks lead from the barn, and the dead man's frantic wife exclaims her daughter is missing.Read more...
On his last day in power, with a blizzard threatening 18 inches of snow, Sheriff Bittersmith's is called to the scene of a crime. A farmer has been stabbed clean through the neck with a pitchfork. Two sets of tracks lead from the barn, and the dead man's frantic wife exclaims her daughter is missing. Convinced it was Gale G'Wain, the orphan who worked at the farm, Bittersmith follows the vanishing footprints into the storm.
Three miles away, Gale G'Wain is alone and close to dead. He's holed up in an empty farmhouse, half-dressed and nearly dead after falling through lake ice. Innocent, but unlikely to ever stand trial in a town as corrupt as Bittersmith, he loads his gun and prepares to defend himself against the dead man's bloodthirsty sons and the Sheriff's Department.
Set in small town Wyoming in the 70s and unfolding in a single day, Clayton Lindemuth's debut novel, Cold Quiet Country, explores small-town corruption and the lengths some people will go to exact revenge.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-09-03
- Reviewer: Staff
Lindemuth’s impressive debut, set in the winter of 1971, is a go-for-the-jugular country noir. Josephus Bittersmith, 72, is the longtime patriarchal sheriff of a remote town in Wyoming that bears his grandfather’s name. Burt Haudesert is a lecherous militiaman and rancher who routinely raped his teenage daughter, Gwen. But Burt’s been found dead with a pitchfork through the neck, and Bittersmith, a philanderer and brutish lout, has been called in on his final day in office and on the eve of a blizzard to track down whoever’s responsible. Gwen is missing, and suspicion soon falls on Burt’s hired farmhand, an orphan named Gail G’Wain who had eyes for Gwen and is also AWOL. Holed up in a farmhouse with Gwen’s best friend, Liz Sunday, another victim of rape, the honorable Gail prepares for the assault of vengeful Wyoming militiamen and corrupt local deputies. Lindemuth carefully weaves characters’ backstories into this thrilling narrative, and his visceral prose and unsparing tone are wonderfully reminiscent of such modern rural noir masters as Tom Franklin and Donald Ray Pollock. Agent: Cameron McClure, Donald Maass Literary. (Nov.)