By James Sallis
(Walker & Company, Hardcover, 9780802716170, 160pp.)
Publication Date: December 26, 2007
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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The poignant and surprising new thriller by one of America's most acclaimed writers.
Few American writers create more memorable landscapes--both natural and interior--than James Sallis. His highly praised Lew Griffin novels evoked classic New Orleans and the convoluted inner space of his black private detective. More recently--in Cypress Grove and Cripple Creek--he has conjured a small town somewhere near Memphis, where John Turner--ex-policeman, ex-con, war veteran and former therapist--has come to escape his past. But the past proved inescapable; thrust into the role of Deputy Sheriff, Turner finds himself at the center of his new community, one that, like so many others, is drying up, disappearing before his eyes.
As Salt River begins, two years have passed since Turner's amour, Val Bjorn, was shot as they sat together on the porch of his cabin. Sometimes you just have to see how much music you can make with what you have left, Val had told him, a mantra for picking up the pieces around her death, not sure how much he or the town has left. Then the sheriff's long-lost son comes plowing down Main Street into City Hall in what appears to be a stolen car. And waiting at Turner's cabin is his good friend, Eldon Brown, Val's banjo on the back of his motorcycle so that it looks as though he has two heads. "They think I killed someone," he says. Turner asks: "Did you?" And Eldon responds: "I don't know." Haunted by his own ghosts, Turner nonetheless goes in search of a truth he's not sure he can live with.
James Sallis has been called by critics one of the best writers in America. "It's a crime that a writer this good isn't better known," wrote David Montgomery in the Chicago Tribune, while Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times Book Review called his Turner books "a superior series…a keeper." Salt River will take his reputation even higher and reach the wider audience he so richly deserves.
James Sallis is the author of more than two dozen volumes of fiction, poetry, biography, translation, essays, and criticism, including the Lew Griffin sextet, Drive, Cypress Grove, and Cripple Creek. His biography of the great crime writer Chester Himes is an acknowledged classic. Sallis lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
"A sweet song of the South from a crime novelist with the ear of a poet."--Phil Kloer, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"...haunting….Sallis writes poetic rings around the subject."--Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
"Sallis is a gifted polymath: poet, biographer, translator, essayist, musician and prolific (if criminally neglected) novelist. His Turner books are little gems, with their sharp descriptions and melancholy reflections."--Adam Woog, The Seattle Times
"...elegiac meditations on fate, grief, and how we persevere in spite of it all. B+"—Entertainment Weekly
"James Sallis might be the "purest" writer of crime fiction in America today. Which means that, beyond whatever story he's telling, his books are worth reading solely for what rises from the inspired use of language....Sallis is a man of multiple talents: poet, translator, musician, teacher and a crime fiction scholar....All of this is brought to bear, vividly, in "Salt River." He assembles sentences like a virtuoso guitarist working the fret board, gracefully choosing each word (or more accurately, each note) and making it resonate. Scenes often read like prose-poems, but they are assembled with the rigor a mystery demands. The succession of chapters exert a rhythmic, almost tidal pull, leading to a conclusion that defies genre expectation - but satisfies something far deeper."--Eddie Muller, San Francisco Chronicle
"... the power of simplicity and the musical ring of truth as only Sallis can deliver it -- as he has done bravely, consistently, for the last few decades."--Sarah Weinman, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"If you enjoy fine, minimalist prose and thoughtful, intelligent crime stories, you would be well advised to begin with the first in the series and read them all."--Associated Press
"...will especially resonate with anyone struggling with darkness at this cheery time of year."--Charlotte Observer
"James Sallis writes wonderfully….That he is a poet somehow must influence his use of language, although he is not flowery, if that’s what “poet” brings to mind"--Andi Schecter, I Love A Mystery
"...the powerful and atmospheric short novel Salt River excels as a poignant character study and darkly riveting mystery. Paradoxically though elegantly combining the raw grit of noir fiction and the lyrical intensity of Southern gothic, Salt River further confirms the author's prestigious reputation as exemplary poet, translator, novelist, and recipient of the Boucheron Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007."--Bookloons.com
“Sallis is…always about good writing. This little gem is a case in point.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"Sublime....the poetic prose...and the richly described rural Southern backdrop make this slim book such a rewarding read."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Like a tightly structured blues song, the melancholy tale finds resonance in every line and every prolonged chord….Sallis comes as close as humanly possible here to turning a mystery novel into a lyric poem."—Booklist, Starred Review