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Armed with incriminating photographs, Tyler becomes obsessed with bringing the perverse undertaker to justice. But first he must outrun Granville Sutter, a local strongman and convicted murderer hired by Fenton to destroy the evidence. What follows is an adventure through the Harrikin, an eerie backwoods filled with tangled roads, rusted machinery, and eccentric squatters—old men, witches, and families among them—who both shield and imperil Tyler as he runs for safety.
With his poetic, haunting prose, William Gay rewrites the rules of the gothic fairytale while exploring the classic Southern themes of good and evil.
stories you got about Pop-Cola bottles to yourself. Breece just sat bemusedly, hands laced across his corpulent belly. He seemed to be intently inspecting the shine of his shoes. After a time, he said, Did it ever occur to you that we’re a lot alike? Not hardly. We’re both to a great degree involved with death. You in your way, I in mine. It’s only natural that a person as intimately associated with death as I am would think quite a lot about it. There’s a poem I’ve remembered that seems to
there. Well, I don’t mind talking to him. I never stepped on his toes that I know of. He may need some work done. De Vries’s look said that this was not a strong likelihood. Any work Sutter needs doin you’d be well advised to pass on, he said. If he didn’t do nothing else, he’d figure a way to beat you out of your money. But you suit yourself on that. I’ll talk to him. There was an empty bench against the front of the store but Sutter was hunkered against the brick wall waiting with the calm
supposed to be made from the glands of male hogs and possess aphrodisiac properties. He was wearing one of the new seethrough nylon shirts that were just beginning to catch on and he didn’t see how he could fail. Apparently the truck wouldn’t start for she had the hood aloft and was standing hipslung before it staring into the engine. He stopped the Lincoln. Car trouble? he called. Can I help? She turned and glanced briefly at him. Her face was harried and irritated. I was just about to send
anything, but Tyler guessed he was to ride in the back and climbed onto the tailgate. The two boys followed, and the girl would have as well, but the woman grasped her arm and pulled her toward the cab. The road they followed was bowered so low with branches that they were forever ducking and ended sitting against the cab. As they progressed light to dark, the moonlight made lace filigrees of moving shadow in the truckbed. He rested his head against the cold metal of the cab. The road spooled
without bein asked at three o’clock in the mornin. I’m the fellow that’s huntin Tyler, Sutter said. And if youdon’t tell me damn quick where he’s at I’m goin to unbreech you like a shotgun. Now I better hear somethin. Sutter’s hand had found the knife. Its blade lay against his thigh. A forefinger felt its edge. It winked dully in the light. No one save the woman seemed to notice. She said, Tell him, Claude. Shut up. I ain’t tellin him jackshit. And you ain’t neither. I don’t care for the