Rats Alley

John Irsfeld, Author, Johm Irsfeld, Author University of Nevada Press $21 (201p) ISBN 978-0-87417-117-4
Following Coming Through and Little Kingdoms, this equally powerful novel closes Irsfeld's Texas trilogy. Bigotry creates continuing tragedies as events are reflected in the thoughts of each person linked to Joe Ben Strother, aged 17. Joyriding in a stolen van, the boy surrenders to four cops, but they kill him, planting a gun to ""prove'' self-defense. Joe Ben's father loses his life-long trust in law and order when a grand jury absolves the corrupt officers, despite the testimony of Willie Valdeez, who describes the crime in detail. But prominent citizens ignore Valdeez as well as other evidence Strother presents. As a consequence, more people die and otherslike the bereaved family's friend Sheriff Wilsonsuffer the effects of justice denied. Irsfeld's pitch-perfect dialogue and the Western background intensify the realism, most notably the differences between the novel's evil characters and those who are decent, compassionate human beings. (July 17)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1987
Release date: 06/01/1987
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