Thursday, August 4, 2016
Killer on the Road
Haven't got there yet, but in anticipation I figured I'd post this older piece originally published on another site - my reaction to the mid-year release of The Devil All the Time....
It’s also the scariest and most bizarre, funniest and most harrowing, singe-off-your-body-hair-and-then-make-it-grow-back, clear-up-your-glaucoma-before-poking-out-your-eyes, raise-the-dead-and-smite-them-again horrorscape of big-A Americana I’ve seen in ages. Not for the timid or faint, but if ever there were a reason to be bold, if ever a pay-off for a stout heart and robust sense of adventure in reading this, brothers and sisters, has got to be it.
The book follows a host of characters rooted in southern Ohio from the end of WWII through the 1960s and it’s as rich and memorable a cast as you’re going to find anywhere. Even as the decades pile up and the narrative strains remain largely independent, it is testament to the merit of each that none clamor louder than the others for our attention. There is not a single limp thread trailing through this tapestry of crime, from the revival preacher and his wheel-chair-bound, guitar-playing sidekick to the road-trip-taking husband and wife spree-murdering team to the devout, but naïve Lenora whose devotion to a flim-flam pastor will break your heart.
The killers that populate The Devil All the Time come in stripes like psychotic or hired, and right on through categories like corrupt, deluded, righteous-revenging, exultant and guilt-ridden, and though the spectacle is bloody, pitiless and terrifying, the read is always engaging and humane in its portraiture of these lost and wandering souls, and it's no exaggeration to suggest that even the minor characters here deserve their very own book.