Daniel Woodrell has written some of the most incredible noir novels I've ever read. His latest is Winter's Bone [Little, Brown, Aug.], about an isolated area in Arkansas settled by a religious cult that has become totally inbred. There are only a handful of first and last names in this place, which makes it hard for the police to arrest anyone. The novel has a really strong 16-year-old female character, who's taking care of her little brothers in the absence of her crank-selling father and mentally ill mother. She is one tough son of a bitch. She has to make sure her father shows up in court the next week, because otherwise jail bondsmen will take their house. So she visits the branches of this weird, very poor family, trying to find him. She reminds me of the plucky young female in True Grit, Mattie Ross. You just don't know what's going to happen until the end.
Volume 253 Issue 19 05/08/2006