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Lake Charles ()

When the first episode of "Justified" aired, many of us looked up the theme song on-line and were likely surprised to discover that there's an entire genre of hillbilly rap called Gangstagrass. The fortunate reader of Ed Lynskey's crime thriller, Lake Charles, is plunged into what may be an emerging genre of hillbilly noir. Our hero, Brendan Fishback, has just woken up in bed with his hookup from the night before, Ashleigh Sizemore, dead next to him. When a lethal variant of angel dust is found in the room, by the corrupt police of Umpire, Tennessee, the dead girl's father, the most powerful man in the county, determines to exact his vengeance on Brendan.

As if he didn't already have enough trouble, the young man heads out to the eponymous Lake Charles with his sister and his best friend, where they stumble upon a pot-growing operation. Sister Edna ends up missing and the young men get in a gun battle with the growers, killing one. Now running from a death he wasn't responsible for and one he was, Brendan and his friend, Cobb Kuzawa, also have to find Edna, while eluding police, politicians, drug runners, and the feds. The odds get evened later, when Cobb's father, a former soldier and spook, joins the action.

That last addition moves the book from true noir--where the deck is so heavily stacked against the protagonist he's certain to lose--towards more of a straightforward thriller. Mr. Lynskey handles the action well and writes in a distinctive voice--Brendan's--but the dread he's developed does lift when the elder Kuzawa shows up. What starts out with overtones of Deliverance or Macon County Line ends up feeling a bit more like First Blood (Rambo). Despite this unevenness in pitch, we certainly recommend the novel and look forward to reading more by the author.


Grade: (B)


See also:

Ed Lynskey Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE : The Lynskey Homepage
    -Ed Lynskey (Wikipedia)
    -BOOK SITE: Lake Charles by Ed Lynskey (Wildside Press)
    -PROFILE: ED LACY: NEW YORK CITY CRIME AUTHOR (Ed Lynskey, August 2004, MysteryFile)
    -INTERVIEW: Ed Lynskey's "Lake Charles" (My Book, The Movie)
    -INTERVIEW: Ed Lynskey interview: Lake Charles (Allan Guthrie, June 2011, Criminal-E)
    -INTERVIEW: Interview with Ed Lynskey, Author of Pelham Fell Here (Mayra Calvani, Sep 12, 2008, BlogCritics)
    -PODCAST: BookCast Interview with Ed Lynskey (Fairfax County Public Library , 21 Sep 2007)
    -INTERVIEW: How I Created a Small Town Called Quiet Anchorage by Ed Lynskey (Tina's Book Reviews)
    -INTERVIEW: AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Ed Lynskey (Kathleen Bolton, Aug 03 2007, Writer Unboxed)
    -INTERVIEW: Interview with Ed Lynskey (Interview by Amy Brozio-Andrews, Absolute Write)
    -REVIEW: of Lake Charles by Ed Lynskey (Elizabeth A. White)
    -REVIEW: of Lake Charles (J. Andrew Byers, Tales from the Bookworm's Lair)
    -REVIEW: of Lake Charles (Richard Godwin, Welcome to the Slaughter House)
    -REVIEW: of Lake Charles (Liz Nichols, Mystery Maven)
    -REVIEW: of Lake Charles (PreciosaMama, DoubleShot Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Lake Charles (Book Bliss)
    -REVIEW: of Lake Charles (Ron Fortier, NY Journal of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Lake Charles (Nancy Carty Lepri, NY Journal of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Quiet Anchorage by Ed Lynskey (Joanne P, BookLover)
    -REVIEW: of The Dirt Brown Derby: A Frank Johnson Mystery by Ed Lynskey (Mysterious Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of THE BLUE CHEER by Ed Lynskey (Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter)

Book-related and General Links: