A Killing in Quail County

Jameson Cole, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-13996-4
Small-town certainties take a hit in Cole's debut, a coming-of-age tale wrapped in a mystery set in Bob White, Okla. (pop. 5000), in the summer of 1957. Life is no longer tranquil for 15-year-old narrator Mark Stoddard. Reeling from his parents' deaths in a car accident a year ago, Mark is restless and hungry for more attention from Jess, his gruff 24-year-old brother, a sheriff's deputy, who's raising him. He and his best friend, Ferret, the son of a gratingly self-righteous preacher, want to impress Jess by finding and destroying a still that nasty, tobacco juice-spitting old Lafe Packard is operating in their dry county. They're joined by TJ, a Louisiana girl whom Ferret's parents are sheltering while her mom works through some hard times. Meanwhile, the townspeople are thrown into turmoil not just by the appearance of moonshine but also by the arrival of a long-haired stranger who has taken up residence in the local woods. When a murder is committed, Jess falls under suspicion and Mark sets out to clear his brother, certain that the vile Lafe is responsible. Throughout, Mark and Ferret ponder the inscrutable ways of grown-ups, and Mark discovers that TJ has admirable qualities beyond her ability to outrun him. Despite a few lapses into melodrama, Cole finds a tone that is both yearning and plainspoken as Mark learns the lesson that appearances often lie. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-373-26251-9
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