Synopses & Reviews
From the acclaimed author of Provinces of Night
, a Southern gothic novel about an undertaker who won't let the dead rest.
Suspecting that something is amiss with their father's burial, teenager Kenneth Tyler and his sister Corrie venture to his gravesite and make a horrific discovery: their father, a whiskey bootlegger, was not actually buried in the casket they bought for him. Worse, they learn that the undertaker, Fenton Breece, has been grotesquely manipulating the dead.
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.
"Teenage siblings Corrie and Kenneth Tyler suspect they've been ripped off by the town undertaker, but what they discover in Gay's resplendently dark third novel is much more sinister than either imagined. After their bootlegger father is buried in smalltown 1951 Tennessee, Kenneth sees undertaker Fenton Breece remove an item from the grave. The siblings dig up their father's grave, among others, and uncover unsettling evidence of Fenton's necrophilia. Corrie cooks up a blackmail plot and enlists Kenneth to steal Fenton's briefcase, which contains, as Kenneth and Corrie soon find out, photos depicting Fenton 'capering gleefully' with corpses. Blackmail material in hand, Corrie demands $15,000 from Fenton, and Fenton hires local psychopath Granville Sutter to muzzle by whatever means necessary the Tylers and get back the photos. A violent run-in with Sutter ends with Corrie's death, and Kenneth runs off to the Harrikin, a remote rural area inhabited by the eccentric and the creepy, leaving Fenton to cavort with Corrie's corpse. Gay (The Long Home) fills the book with haunting imagery and shocking, morbid and (surprisingly) hopeful turns as twisted justice gets meted out. Language lovers who are not faint of heart won't want to miss this one." (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Gay knows full well what he's doing, pulling readers into a small-town Southern nightmare so intense it verges on the surreal." Seattle Times
"[L]yrical and mournful…a richly memorable story of loss and redemption." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"The masterful writing and stunning, evocative description saves the novel from the clichés of the horror genre....[R]eaders will not easily forget the two lead villains." Dallas Morning News
"[A] work of acute psychological insight that insinuates its way into the bones like a chill fog descending on a dark forest." Bookreporter.com
About the Author
William Gay lives in Hohenwald, Tennessee. He is the author of the novels The Long Home and Provinces of Night, and the short story collection I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down.