In 1949, Aloysius Archer arrives in the dusty Southern town of Poca City. He has nothing but a handful of dollars, the clothes he’s wearing and an appointment with his new parole officer. After his wartime experiences in Italy and a prison sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, Archer is looking for a fresh start and a peaceful life.
On his first night of freedom, Archer meets local business tycoon Hank Pittleman, who promises Archer handsome compensation to work as his debt collector. Yet Archer takes on more than he bargains for, as he becomes embroiled in a long-running feud between the drought-struck town’s most dangerous residents. When one of them dies, the authorities label Archer as their number one suspect.
A bloody game is being played above and below the law. Everybody playing has a deeply buried secret, and Archer must uncover them all – if he’s to avoid going back behind bars.
A bit of a departure here and a very good one- the authors trademark fine writing and involved plotting with an edge of noir and a set of engaging characters.
The southern 40’s setting is descriptively immersive, into this comes main protagonist Aloysius Archer, recently released prisoner, with a wavering set of moral judgments, about to get caught up in feuds, murder and mystery.
For me this was a very good read indeed, a classic character study set within a considered thriller, a page turner with layered plotting and unexpected turns.
Didn’t take me long to go through this one. One of those novels where once you are in you have no wish to emerge again until the end.