Mad Dog and Englishman

J. M. Hayes, Author Poisoned Pen Press $23.95 (190p) ISBN 978-1-890208-49-3
Just 15 pages into this excellent sophomore effort, we've met a divorced, smalltown Kansas sheriff named English, his 12-year-old daughter Heather and his half-brother Mad DogDand we care about them all. We've also witnessed a gruesome murder. Mad Dog finds what's left of the scalped and dismembered Rev. Peter Simms, stuffed into the toilet in a park restroom. That Mad Dog is wearing nothing but a Speedo swimsuit and black body paint, highlighted with lightning (""He'd managed to incorporate the Speedo logo into the stroke on his right leg"") is no surprise to the sheriff. Both men are a quarter Cheyenne, and Mad Dog is on a spirit quest. When he later finds the minister's fatherDalso dead, also scalpedDMad Dog lands squarely on the suspect list. Then a stranger hits town, seeking a young girl who looks just like Heather. The investigation turns into a breakneck mix of comic action and mortal danger, salted with Cheyenne philosophy and the dark realities of a twisted family's past masked by smalltown respectability. The ""whodunit"" resolution is a cop-out, and Hayes is over the top with jokes. But all that hardly matters, given the cliff-hanging plotting and Hayes's dead-on portrayal of complex people and relationships, in a landscape he clearly loves. Poisoned Pen will be issuing a revised version of the author's debut novel, The Grey Pilgrim, in tandem. (Dec. 4)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
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FORMATS
Paperback - 190 pages - 978-1-890208-74-5
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