Set amid the “ghostly forms of the cliffs and mesas” of Southeast Arizona, the novel boasts striking descriptions of the desert, itself something of a character, mysterious and powerful with its own intentions and interventions in people’s lives. Lenz employs a host of perspective characters, offering a multifaceted view not just of the twisting plot but of life as each lives it, stirring reader sympathy towards each, even the villainous Jason Flint. That narrative richness demands that readers keep up, of course, though the transitions and the narrative logic behind them is clear throughout.
The characters are all well rounded, and the telling is nuanced. Though a fresh murder seems imminent, and the crimes of the past loom large in everyone’s lives, Lenz’s pacing—always even, never frantic—keeps the story absorbing until an ending that edges toward the mystic without ever breaking the rules of realism. The author touches on issues of deep injustice done to the native inhabitants of the American continent, with particular emphasis on the Apache. Knotty questions of reparation, justice, and the ever-present shadow of discrimination give resonance to this well told-tale.
Takeaway: An absorbing tale of mystery and revenge in the Arizona desert, with a Native American cast.
Great for fans of: Stephen Graham Jones’s All the Beautiful Sinners, Louis Owens’s The Sharpest Sight.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A