Russell James has been named “the Godfather of Noir” by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.
If you’ve read Joe Lansdale before you won’t need to read this review; you’ll read his latest anyway.
If you haven’t read him, read this, an astounding tale of a small group (it varies from three to five) escaping from serious trouble in down-home backwoods Texas by sailing a raft down river through lands stalked by danger and controlled by no one.
Sounds a bit like Huckleberry Finn? This is a hundred times better. Brilliantly narrated by teenage Sue Ellen, the tale begins with the corpse of her beautiful star-struck friend being dredged from the river and almost thrown back in to avoid the hassle, and continues as her friends take her ashes and a cache of stolen money for a long trip on that raft.
Don’t expect a Huck Finn idyll: this is Lansdale, dark and comic, bleak and terrifying, romantic and endearing. People may classify this as genre fiction; it is not. This, I kid you not, is the Great American Novel of the year.