Cold Quiet Country
By Clayton Lindemuth @claylindemuth
Cold Quiet Country is the first book I am reviewing for authors who follow me on social media. I decided to review at least one book by every published author who follows me on twitter, wordpress, goodreads and facebook. If you are an author, let me know where I can find your books to review them.
Anyway, Cold Quiet Country. This was a hard book to read. Not hard in the sense that it was poorly written, but rather in the difficulty of the subject matter. Lindemuth examines the impact and ramifications of rape, incest and revenge. His writing is not graphic but it is effective.
I went into this book with no knowledge of the subject matter. As a first impression, therefore, I was not sure if I would be able to make it through the book. In the first chapter a woman is blackmailed by the sheriff into performing sexual favors. The sheriff was the p.o.v. character, which made me think he may be the protagonist. Happily for my sanity this wasn’t the case. The protagonist is instead the murder suspect.
There are actually three p.o.v. characters: the 70-odd year old sheriff, a 20 year old young man, and a 16 year old girl. Here lies my main criticism of the whole book. Each of these characters have vastly different viewpoints and personalities but I could not tell them apart from the style of writing. They had next to no differentiation. I had to rely on contextual clues to figure out who the speaker was. The book is written in first person singular. You would think that the internal monologue of an abused teenage girl would be different than a lecherous septuagenarian man. The sameness to the writing may have been an intentional choice on the part of the author to aid in the overall tone of the book, but I personally think it was a poor one. The main place where this fell short was with the girl, Gwen. Gwen didn’t sound or feel like any girl I’ve ever met. I’ve known girls who’ve been abused, and they do not sound like Gwen. This was one place I thought the author could have done better.
The protagonist was an interesting character in that he was, in a word, a good man. Nearly everyone in the book has serious flaws, but not Gale. He stands alone as a good man in the face of the evil surrounding him. Of course, he’s wanted for murder at the beginning of the story and he does do some pretty awful things in the name of justice, so you have to consider what the definition of a good man really is. Lindemuth brings up some important things to ponder in the course of reading this book.
Overall, I would recommend this book to people. Be warned, though. It’s not a “fun” read. It will make you uncomfortable, and it should. Wickedness should always make you uncomfortable.