Saturday, October 27, 2007


Gone South by Robert R. McCammon
"Gone South. In Vietnam Vet's parlance, it means screwed-up, crazy. In the Deep South of the United States, it means dead.
Dan Lambert's experiences in Vietnam have left him no stranger to psychological wounds or death. Years later, they have also left him divorced, broke, unemployed---and on the run. For Dan, to his shock and his shame, has become a murderer.
There is a $15,000 reward on his head---a reward that two weird bounty hunters will stop at nothing to get: a reward that doesn't interest the brutally disfigured Arden Halliday. For Arden is after a different prize---one that she hopes to find deep in the dangerous swamps of Louisiana. Joining forces, Arden and Lambert head south---he to hide and she to seek. Yet there they will both become discoverers---of the dregs of American society, bloody violence, drug smuggling---and a curious destiny."*

I first read this book quite a few years ago. McCammon is one of my favorite writers and, in my mind, kicked Stephen King's butt quite a few times. He is great at blending the natural and the supernatural at a level that teeters between believability and folklore. That's not to say everything he's written is grand but Boy's Life continues to be in my list of top 5 fave books of all time. But enough of that. On to Gone South.
This is a strange book. It starts off normal enough but as the story goes deeper into the swamps of Louisiana, it gets deeply strange. At the heart of the story is Dan Lambert, a down-on-his-luck, terminally ill, Vietnam vet. To McCammon's credit, you pull for Lambert even though he is on the run for a crime he clearly committed. You actually invest yourself in quite a few of the characters in this book. Strange though they are, you find yourself hoping for the best to happen to them. You want them to catch a break.
Be warned. This is a gritty book with plenty of gory, over-the-top action. It's an ugly story to be sure but it's got a beautiful ending. Perhaps a bit trite, but beautiful nonetheless.

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