Reviewed by Jilles
A Swollen Red Sun by Matthew McBride is like nothing I have ever read before. It is noir, definitely, it is full of original and crazy characters, absolutely, the most horrible things happen that are completely unexpected and off the chart, check, and because of its spare and precise language it reads like a fast train on speed. I couldn’t help but think that there was a great TV series hidden in this book somewhere.
What is it about? The story is set in Gasconade County, Missouri, once called the meth capital of the world. Amongst the many characters, the protagonist of the book, one of the few good guys, is Deputy Sheriff Dale Banks, who discovers $52,000 hidden in the broken-down trailer of crystal cooking lunatic Jerry Dean Skaggs. Banks decides to take the money and knows what he did was wrong, but he did it for all the right reasons. At least, he thinks so. Jerry Dean owes this money to his partners, a crooked cop and the fearsome over-the-top Reverend Butch Pogue, who controls the town’s meth production from his house on top of a hill outside the town, where he lives with his two wives, his idiotic son, and a shitload of dangerous animals. All of this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the story. Everything is dark and hilariously violent in this fast-paced noir, where redemption is not a part of the story. Morally it seems to be a losing battle on all fronts. But what a read.
Not to diminish this book, but I found that the potential of it is actually bigger than the story itself. Like I said earlier, this would make one hell of a TV series that I would love to see. Or write, for that matter.
You can find A Swollen Red Sun in the crime section of our stores.
Jilles is ABC Amsterdam’s Consciousness, Eastern Philosophy and Film & TV buyer.
More staff reviews can be found here.