cover image Twilight


William Gay, . . MacAdam/Cage, $25 (224pp) ISBN 978-1-59692-058-3

Teenage siblings Corrie and Kenneth Tyler suspect they've been ripped off by the town undertaker, but what they discover in Gay's resplendently dark third novel is much more sinister than either imagined. After their bootlegger father is buried in smalltown 1951 Tennessee, Kenneth sees undertaker Fenton Breece remove an item from the grave. The siblings dig up their father's grave, among others, and uncover unsettling evidence of Fenton's necrophilia. Corrie cooks up a blackmail plot and enlists Kenneth to steal Fenton's briefcase, which contains, as Kenneth and Corrie soon find out, photos depicting Fenton "capering gleefully" with corpses. Blackmail material in hand, Corrie demands $15,000 from Fenton, and Fenton hires local psychopath Granville Sutter to muzzle—by whatever means necessary—the Tylers and get back the photos. A violent run-in with Sutter ends with Corrie's death, and Kenneth runs off to the Harrikin, a remote rural area inhabited by the eccentric and the creepy, leaving Fenton to cavort with Corrie's corpse. Gay (The Long Home ) fills the book with haunting imagery and shocking, morbid and (surprisingly) hopeful turns as twisted justice gets meted out. Language lovers who are not faint of heart won't want to miss this one. (Oct. 20)