The Clearing ). Post-W"/>

The Missing

Tim Gautreaux, Author
Tim Gautreaux, Author . Knopf $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-307-27015-3
Reviewed on: 12/08/2008
Release date: 03/01/2009

Bayou shepherd of half-sunk souls, Gautreaux returns to the land of the lost and the lonely in his haunting and transient third book (after The Clearing ). Post-WWI Louisiana is a “root-buckled” and “magnolia-haunted” underworld for seedy, drunken mobs and twisted backwoods families. Floating through the chaos is Sam Simoneaux, who, “half dead” after the slaughter of his parents and the later loss of his two-year-old son to fever, undertakes a quest to find a missing girl. Encountering embittered thieves, forlorn vaudevillians and icy bourgeoisie, Simoneaux is a keen observer who can find the one good stitch of humanity in an otherwise sordid tableau, even as his investigation begins to connect back to his family's murders. He is also a refreshingly candid voice, brimming with a lyrical intensity that graces some of the best Southern literature. Though the hasty, romantic wrapup to Sam's investigation and his refusal to exact revenge on his family's murderers—emotionally tepid even through the novel's decisive climax—obscure Gautreaux's finer redemptive tones, Sam's struggle to redeem the memories of his son and parents sustains the book's raw beauty. (Mar.)