Overweight 13-year-old "Shug" Akins lives in the Missouri Ozarks with his beautiful mother Glenda and his father Red. Glenda starts sipping her "tea" about 10 a.m. and keeps her thermos close all day. Glenda sometimes
teases Shug with the idea that Red may not actually be his father. Red stays busy with his best friend Basil running around the countryside pulling small time heists. Sometimes they involve Shug in criminal activities, knowing he'd get off with a light reprimand if caught. When
Red's home, he's physically and verbally abusive to both Glenda and Shug.
Glenda and Shug exchange caretaking of the city cemetery for a house at its edge. Life is pretty uneventful until Glenda and Shug are walking home one day and at the river crossing meet a man with a Thunderbird. Glenda's
attraction to the kind stranger is immediate, as is the stranger's for Glenda. Shug watches events unfold that lead to tragedy and terror.
This is a story of very flawed people dealing with triumph and despair. Woodrell is superb at bringing these characters to life. The pace of this book is very good, keeping the reader steadily gaining on the inevitable
climax. Cozy lovers should give this book a wide berth, but fans of noir will find satisfaction here.
This report prepared by Vicky Shultz