Review by Shellie for: What Dies in Summer ~ by Tom Wright
With a down-to-earth writing style and in-depth human insight, this page-turning crime fiction novel is a quintessential summer read for those who like dark paranormal twists and a Southern Gothic flavor to their novels.
About: In a Southern town during the early 1970’s, a young teenage boy named Jim (aka Biscuit) lives with his grandmother after his stepfather has beaten him badly enough to leave him in the hospital; and it’s not the first time. When his cousin L.A. comes to live with them, because she too is being abused, a common bond and familial friendship is created.
What is special about Biscuit is that besides being unusually introspective for his age, he has a touch of “the sight” and sees glimpses of things in dreams and otherwise that others cannot. It’s all looked at as part of his heritage since the gift runs in the family, with L.A. and his grandmother possessing their own version of knowing.
When Biscuit and L.A. find a mutilated teenage girl’s body near the train tracks, there begins the discovery of a series of murders - all by a twisted serial killer who is profiled as a member of their community.
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this novel. Tom Wright has an interesting writing style that is both descriptive and unusual. In giving Biscuit his voice he has created a wonderful character. The boy narrates his story with a youthful southern drawl and local colloquialism that makes the read a special one; it gives the story a realistic and grounded feeling. I felt like Biscuit’s thoughts about life and growing up were reflective and respectable for a growing young man on the verge of adulthood. I liked that a lot.
A warning: this is crime fiction and depicts graphic details about the murder of young teens, including several violent scenes. Conversely, if you enjoy complicated characters and coming of age stories where a broad spectrum of beliefs are presented, then this will be an excellent pick for you.
One thing I am not crazy about is the cover - not a very comfortable position I am thinking! But beyond that it’s a fine debut and one which I could not decide whether to give a 4 or 4.5 stars to. In the end I have designated it a 4. Definitely recommended for readers who enjoy slightly paranormal themes and are looking for a summer setting.
Published June 2012 by W.W. Norton & Company.
A copy of this book was sent to Layers of Thought, by the publisher in exchange for an honest review, as are most of the books accepted here on the blog for promotion. It in no way influenced my thoughts or opinions.
Thanks for reading.