Sunday, September 4, 2011

#39: Under the Bright Lights by Daniel Woodrell

A mostly honest cop and his mostly crooked brother, who owns a local bar, deal with murder and mayhem in Daniel Woodrell's Under the Bright Lights.

Woodrell later wrote Winter's Bone, which became a very worthwhile film and seems to have generated some interest in his older work, including this reissue of his first novel. 

Although he is frequently compared to Cormac McCarthy now, this early outing is more James Lee Burke, with colorful characters in a moody, corrupt small town in Louisiana  surrounded by foreboding swamps (which naturally play into the denouement).

I think one of the more interesting elements in the story, about the death of a prominent politician that then reveals secrets best buried, was that the cycle of crime and punishment played out through to the end with little influence from the protagonist.  It gave the story a larger noir feel, like some of Cornell Woolrich's better work.

I bought this at a goodbye price from a nearly empty Borders on the verge of closing as "The Bayou Trilogy," with two more novels featuring the main characters forthcoming. 

A good read and my first foray into Daniel Woodrell; I will definitely read the others.

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