Dog, Horse, Rat

Christopher Davis, Author Viking Books $17.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-670-82580-6
Van and Royal West are brothers in an upstate New York town dominated by a prison, a few bars and sense of having been cut adrift from history. By all accounts, the splendidly pastoral hamlet of Whitehead is a cultural backwater. Although organized around shared beliefs, the citizenry is too close, ``cutting across generations. If you knew a man's son, then the father was a friend. You took their daughters out . . . they came to your football games.'' This is the tawdry backdrop for a senseless crime: the brothers, surprised while robbing the summer home of a well-to-do professor from Connecticut, kill the man's gifted son, and proceed to avoid detection--and their own culpability--by becoming involved in a depressing series of squabbles with family and townfolk. The portrait of Van, a Vietnam vet, is chilling evidence of the excesses a closed society will abide from one of its own; the younger Royal, a true innocent at the start, plunges into self-victimization. Davis ( A Peep into the Twentieth Century ) conveys perfectly the parochialism of small-town life, but the inevitability of the events he sets in motion robs the tale of affecting verisimilitude. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/30/1990
Release date: 02/01/1990
Paperback - 252 pages - 978-0-595-09198-0
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