by Miles Arceneaux
Reviewed by Cindy Jones
Who is Miles Arceneaux? The name, in conjunction with its placement on the stunning cover of this debut novel, suggests an author with deep Gulf State roots, Creole spices at family reunions, and friends like Binx Bolling of The Moviegoer, who, it turns out, is the same kind of fictional as our author. Miles Arceneaux is the pen name for three men, collaborators in the creation of a thriller set on the south coast of Texas.
What began as a fun diversion among friends on a coastal vacation, turned into an award-winning debut novel published by a university press with sequels in the works. The three Texas-based writers, Brent Douglass, John T. Davis, and James R. Dennis brought individual talents to the group project: local experience, writing skills, and knowledge of history and put it all together in a story whose construction is seamless.
But. This is not your usual thriller. Sample cover blurb:
"The best suspense novel I've read since Cormac what's-his-name." -Kinky Friedman, Governor of the Heart of TexasThe story could succeed on its conventional merits: the first chapter's grisly sea death compels a newly arrived brother into dangerous coastal underbelly in search of the killer. The big difference between this and other thrillers is the telling. Rather than a slick commercial page-turner, this book is an original, one-of-a-kind, locally grown, artisanal, take-your-time work of imagination. The authors apparently devoted as much thought developing the tone of this novel as they put into the genius pen name. Call it Gulf Coast Noir, the tone combines abundant local salt-air, humorous good old boy dialogue rampant with punch lines, a dash of edgy darkness, and the slightest suggestion of parody.
"Tucker loved a good hurricane party better than dove hunting and Southwest Conference football. He'd taken pains to trailer his sailboat inland, kiss his disbelieving wife and then speed back to Shady's against the steady line of evacuees."
Reading this book after a long day is like walking into Shady's honky-tonk, ordering a cold one, and picking up where you left off with the usual suspects. If its early, the hurricane party may have just ended and you'll have to let the poor dog out and step over some sleeping bodies to get to the bar. When Juan Estrada lifts his head so Vita can make some breakfast, a bottle cap will probably be stuck to his cheek. Any Girlfriends still shopping for Guy-friend Christmas presents might do well to check out this book.
For more info: check the website
Cindy Jones is the author of My Jane Austen Summer as well as work-in-progress about look-alike friends who trade places while under dangerous influence of Romantic Poets. Follow: