Bloomsbury USA, 9781632864529, 192pp.
Publication Date: June 21, 2016
In his celebrated career, James Sallis has created some of the most finely drawn protagonists in crime fiction, all of them thoughtful observers of the human condition: Lew Griffin, the black New Orleans private investigator; retired detective John Turner; the unnamed wheelman in Drive. Dr. Lamar Hale will now join the ranks of Sallis's finest characters.
In the woods outside the town of Willnot, the remains of several people have suddenly been discovered, unnerving the community and unsettling Hale, the town's all-purpose general practitioner, surgeon, and town conscience. At the same time, Bobby Lowndes--his military records disappeared, being followed by the FBI--mysteriously reappears in his hometown, at Hale's door. Over the ensuing months, the daily dramas Hale faces as he tends to his town and to his partner, Richard, collide with the inexplicable vagaries of life in Willnot. And when a gunshot aimed at Lowndes critically wounds Richard, Hale's world is truly upended.
In his inimitably spare style, James Sallis conjures indelible characters and scenes that resonate long after they appear. "You live with someone year after year, you think you've heard all the stories," Lamar observes, "but you never have."
About the Author
Praise For Willnot…
"James Sallis is one of our greatest living crime writers, and Willnot continues an almost unseemly streak of excellence. Try to get his words, his stories, his people out of your head. Just try." - Laura Lippman
"Willnot is a slippery, poetic mystery that becomes a love story to small town America." - Ian Rankin
"What a lovely, unexpected book--taking you safely, not without loss, where you didn't know it was going." - John Harvey
"Sallis is without peer when it comes to interweaving seemingly disparate narrative threads, and his work consistently challenges readers to question their assumptions about themselves and other people." - starred review, Publishers Weekly
"Sallis' latest has a lot to recommend it: an ingenious and unusual use of the Macguffin; pungent dialogue; a world that's either dark shot through with abundant light or light shot through with abundant dark; likable, complex characters. A brisk and sure-handed treat." - Kirkus
"Willnot packs a big punch for its slim size and spare prose . . . Sallis expertly weaves notes of hope throughout his pungent and often melancholy tale." - Seattle Times
"James Sallis’ atmospheric and disturbing Willnot isn’t exactly a mystery of the ‘crime-investigation-resolution’ type. It is rather more like real life, with some motivations left ambiguous and some loose ends never to be tied up. And it is all the more compelling for that . . . Willnot is prose-driven--a rarity, and a most welcome one." - starred review, Bookpage
"A worthy mouthpiece for Sallis’s melodic cadences, Dr. Hale is goodness personified, a sweet and caring man who doesn’t need to inhabit his patients’ bodies to understand their lives." - Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
"A profoundly moving, quietly eloquent jewel of a novel." - Booklist
"Sallis is quietly and steadily writing way above his weight class." - Lisa Levy, LitHub.com
"If your average workaday crime novel is beer, then Willnot, at half the length, is whisky, distilled down to its essence and all the more potent for it." - New York Journal of Books
"I could not stop reading. It is the untold tales--of life and death, the trivial and profound, buffoonery and wisdom--and how in the sharing of them we are both defined and connected that this story really celebrates." - Mystery Scene Magazine
"It doesn’t get any better than this . . . WILLNOT is a beautiful, wonderful puzzle." - Bookreporter.com
"First up is the sublime James Sallis with Willnot (Bloomsbury). Sallis is a crime writer’s crime writer, a superbly skillful novelist and short story writer, as well as a poet, essayist and biographer. He writes detective series and standalone books, and Willnot is one of the latter. Set in the eponymous small American town, it’s a deep and thoughtful examination of life, dressed up as a mystery. The book opens with a typical set-up, the discovery of dead bodies in the local woods, but what follows is a terrific and wide-ranging look at the nature of morality and good versus evil, seen through the eyes of local doctor Lamar Hale. Just like in books by classic writers like James M. Cain, there is so much plot, character, dialogue and philosophy in here, all crammed into just a few pages. Exemplary stuff." - Doug Johnstone, The Bandar Blog