cover image Perdido


Rick Collignon. MacAdam/Cage Publishing, $19.5 (224pp) ISBN 978-1-878448-76-7

Will Sawyer, the protagonist of this nimble and endearing novel, has lived in the New Mexican town of Guadalupe (the setting of Collington's well-received debut, The Journal of Antonio Montoya) for nearly 20 years. But it will take more than time to turn him into a true local. Take, for instance, the way his interest is piqued by his friend's story about a dead girl found hanging from desolate Las Manos Bridge in 1968. A local would never go off half-cocked, asking nosy questions of the retired policeman who was assigned to the case. Nor would he use his connections to rummage about in the police department's old records. Will's snooping manages to anger the town's most unsavory figures, but he recovers precious little solid information about the poor dead girl (not even her name). He does, however, find out a fair amount about himself and about how alienated he is from his truest desires. In the end, the sense of being adrift in his own life may be his most Guadelupean trait. The town's insane founder, after all, originally named it Perdido (the Spanish word for ""lost"") because he came to think that ""not only was this valley lost but so was everyone in it."" Even if a little of this aimlessness rubs off on the story toward its end, setting the denouement curiously adrift, Collington writes with a plain yet evocative (and often moving) style that's sure to appeal to fans of Tony Hillerman and Sherman Alexie. French rights to Editions Metailie; U.K. rights to Fourth Estate; Australian rights to Hodder Headline; and Norwegian rights to Stenersens. (July)