I don't think the writing is at all elegant. On the contrary, I found it cloying. The undergraduate literary pretensions and fantasies are everywhere from using the "catcher in the rye" images on the first page to the dedication to Truman Capote. Those things presage the preciousness of his writer-protagonist ("for that's who I was, who I will always be . . . nothing more than the storyteller, the teller of tales" --why the redundancy, by the way?) whose forthcoming book at the end is "tipped to be the number one bestseller of the year" (nobody in publishing speaks of a book's prospects that way). Add to that the metaphors run amok ("Special moments--sporadic, like knots tied, irregularly spaced as if crows on a telegraph wire"--which is it, knots or crows?). Everything is so fraught. Even rough-hewn Reilly Hawkins speaks in overwrought metaphors. He describes a deceased older brother as having "eyes like back-lit sapphires." Would an uneducated Georgia farmer in 1941 describe a man as having "eyes like back-lit sapphires?" How would he know what "back-lit" even meant? Why would he say such a thing when the rest of the time he is incapable of subject-verb agreement?
The silly redundancy mentioned above is clearly part of the author's conscious style. I admit to finding it tremendously irritating; it's a cheap attempt to heap emotional weight onto a phrase for no good reason. Other examples:
". . . and so the events of that day seemed all the more disparate and incongruous."
"Death came that day. Workmanlike, methodical . . ."
". . . but in some small way an omen, a protent."
"Her hair was flax and linen . . ."
"Just for a heartbeat, a fraction of a second."
"She changed the subject--suddenly, unexpectedly-- . . ." [Not technically synonyms, but a redundancy in this context.]
". . . at first nothing more than a spark, an ember . . ." [Again, not precisely a synonym, but redundant.]
Young Joe has the same problem with his writing, which is stylistically remarkably like Ellory's: ". . . a ghost that walked with him, beside him . . ."
* Where does Joe get his broad vocabulary as a young man? There's no mention of books in the home (except one Steinbeck), his parents are uneducated, and there's no mention of diligent reading of any kind on his part.
* Laverna Stowell was found dead June 7, 1941, exactly six months before Pearl Harbor, but young Joe Vaughn already knew all about the arrests of the Jews and their murders in concentration camps, something most of the world didn't know much about until the camps were liberated. Even Rielly has heard about it! And Joe's mother has the whole thing already completely figured out--"Adolf Hitler has been slowly poisoning the minds of the German people, and he has been doing this long before he went to war." The Holocaust is central to the story, yet the fact that characters know of it at all that early, much less in such accurate detail, is an anachronism.
* Reilly says his father died of cancer from smoking black cigarettes, but the link between cancer and cigarettes was not widely known in 1941--another anachronism.
* Joe Vaughn scoffs at the existence of the Boogeyman but believes that a personified Death literally came along the High Road to claim his father?
* Sheriff Dearing said all the Guardians would be "grounded" as punishment--in 1941 rural Georgia? The term didn't exist. He might as well have given them a time out. Another anachronism.
* So many scenes ring terribly false e.g., his mother explaining about her affair with Kruger and Joe suddenly being completely okay with it, mature and philosophical at 14 and willing to admit his own sexual yearnings--yeah, right.
* A friend gets Joe's prison memoir published and the book prompts an appeal of his murder conviction to the Supreme Court of the United States. How? Never explained. Why the Supreme Court? Never explained--it seems to have gone straight there, which is silly for a murder case. SCOTUS awards him a new trial which he wins (why he wins is never clear).
Sorry, but this book is a mess in my opinion. Reading it was more an annoyance than a pleasure.