cover image Green Sun

Green Sun

Kent Anderson. Mulholland, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-46680-6

After several years teaching English literature in Idaho, Hanson, the hero of Anderson’s deeply moving novel set in 1983, has returned to police work as a beat cop in the economically devastated neighborhoods of East Oakland, Calif. A former Special Forces sergeant in Vietnam, Hanson expected to die in the war. Now, more than a decade later, he misses the simple purity of conflict. Hanson doesn’t care if he lives or dies, and that freedom has brought him closer to his underserved community. Immediately at odds with the department’s policy of brute containment, he sees himself as more of an “armed social worker.” Things get complicated when Hanson’s path crosses that of Felix Maxwell, the local drug lord who has become a kind of urban folk hero. In a series of vivid and often hallucinatory episodes, Anderson (Night Dogs) shows Hanson, aided by an 11-year-old neighborhood boy named Weegee, navigating the mean streets of Oakland, dealing with situations forcefully but always with humanity. Anderson’s model of community policing couldn’t be more timely. (Feb.)