on October 5, 2011
A new book by a mature novelist tells the story of a retired detective on the trail of a cult leader with a penchant for girls from age 12 and up. Soaked in the pleasures and pain of alcohol and food (this protagonist, Sunderson, is no vegan!), the book would have been reduced to a novella without the aforementioned descriptions of booze and meat. The other themes are the temptations of sex and the healing effects of nature walks for this 65 year-old.
A minor quibble is that some sentences would have been more clear with the use of more commas. I had to re-read some to make sure I understood their meaning. The beauty of well-placed punctuation cannot be understated.
Otherwise a well-written work by one America's better authors. It will certainly be appreciated by readers who generally like Jim Harrison's oeuvre.
Retired police detective Sunderson has just retired from the Marquette, Michigan police force. He was in the middle of an investigation of a cult leader suspected of having sexual relations with minors. Ironically, Sunderson has his own sexual proclivities in that direction spying on his neighbour, Mona, who walks naked around her bedroom well aware of Sunderson's prying eyes. Hardly, a female enters the story narrative that his character doesn't remark on the shapeliness of her rear end or the size and shape of her breasts. His interest verges on the obsessive. Sunderson philosophizes on all manner of subjects besides male sexuality; fishing for brook trout, his relationship with a wife he believes rightly divorced him, death, Mexican women, Mexican gangs, cult religions etc. You get the picture. The book's been rightly subtitled, 'a faux mystery,' because there really isn't much of a mystery with few words expended on its unraveling, and little effort arriving at a satisfactory conclusion. Nevertheless, the book is surprisingly entertaining and well worth the time spent reading it.
Sunderson is a newly retired police detective who is obsessed with pursuing a cult specializing in young girls, run by someone known as The Great Leader. Along the way we run into a teenage female exhibitionist, a Mexican nurse`s aid with a drug lord brother, a half-breed buddy, and numerous other characters.
Harrison is a master of the novella, "Legends of the Fall", the "Brown Dog" stories, et.al. Unfortunately this is not a novella, it stretches on for over 300 pages. There is very little plot, rather, long descriptive passages of the Upper Peninsula and the South West, ruminations on religion, Native American history and writings, food and alcohol. What saves it is Harrison`s masterful prose, laced with humor and wry observations.
Not his best but better than most.