cover image Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek

James Sallis, . . Walker, $23 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-3382-5

In Sallis's beautifully written second book to feature Turner, an ex-cop and ex-con (after 2004's Cypress Grove ), Turner is working as a deputy sheriff in Cripple Creek, Tenn., a small town where crime is minor and strictly local. Then, late one night, Sheriff Don Lee arrests drunk driver Judd Kurtz with $200,000 in a nylon gym bag hidden in the trunk of his car. Kurtz breaks out of the town jail, seriously wounding two officers in the process. Turner's investigation leads him to an organized crime connection in nearby Memphis that enmeshes him in a web of escalating violence. Sallis's working method is to simply let the cameras roll, depicting the lives of Turner, his banjo-picking girlfriend, his eccentric co-workers and Cripple Creek itself, as everyone goes about their business. Small moments are recorded as faithfully as large, and stories from earlier days mix with the ongoing crimes and misdemeanors of the present. A structural sleight of hand toward the end may at first confuse but is pretty amazing once the reader catches on. Author tour. (Apr.)