Customer Reviews for

Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories

Average Rating 4.5
( 15 )
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  • Posted March 5, 2011

    The best of country noir

    I had the opportunity to read this in manuscript form. It's the kind of meth-fueled, backwoods nightmare I feel like I've been waiting my whole life for. Read it.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2011

    An astonishing debut

    Here's one reason to know about Frank Bill. With his breathtaking first collection, "Crimes in Southern Indiana", he will instantly, deservedly ascend onto a stage of stunning Big Names. Reviewers will have their reasons and they'll be damn good ones. Bill shares the unexpected vision of Pinckney Benedict and Thom Jones. The sly wisdom of James Crumley and James Lee Burke. The hard-fought masculinity of Jim Harrison and Hemingway. The doped-up worlds of Palahniuk and both Thompsons, Hunter and Jim. The heart-stopping originality of Dorothy Allison. The sense of place of Woodrell, Larry Brown, Flannery O'Connor, and Sherwood Anderson. The sudden, consuming violence of Elmore Leonard and Cormac McCarthy. The deceptive lyricism of Ray Carver and Bonnie Jo Campbell.

    Or here's another. It's a near-certainty that "Crimes" will be on everyone's shortlist for awards come end of the year. Or how about the fact that every person with a subscription to Playboy or Esquire will be name-dropping him like a brick over the coming months?

    Honestly, none of that matters. You want to grab this book for the sheer pleasure of reading these stories. The rush of burred pages and nonstop action. The beauty of tales connected by laced ropes of blood - some spare as an empty jelly glass next to a bottle of white-label whiskey, others deep and so dark you'll be glad you've never lived anything like them, and all of them brutal, gunridden and bloodsoaked.

    Bill's stories offer a unique, fresh, ferocious look at a drug-fueled, explosive world of empty promises and dead ends. And while they have all the thrills and grip of great pulp fiction, they also have the lightning-strike clarity of more "literary" art, leaving us with the afterglow of a glimpse into our truly terrifying, modern heartland.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Blood feud poetry...

    Blood feud poetry. Desperate situations where beat-down people stand on the line between what they know is wrong and sheer survival in a hardscrabble emotionally jagged landscape. Those uncomfortable photos in the middle of the newspaper showing a man with sunken sleep-bruised eyes and a couple column inches detailing the unfathomable things he's done. Staring into the abysmal latrine of humanity, it is easy to sink to nihilism, to embrace the banality of evil, but in Crimes in Southern Indiana, Frank Bill refuses to take the easy road. People beyond forgiveness seek mere understanding. Desires criss-cross and hurtle together like jalopies down a one lane dirt road. Anyone can write brutality. Giving it a dark but honest human heart takes guts and a keen sense of people, and this novel speaks volumes of messy truth.
    Favorites. Vengeance-fueled rampages like "Old Testament Wisdom." The broken gears of human machines, like in "The Need." Not a bad story in the bunch. I'd read an early version of "Officer Down (Tweakers)" and it is leaner and meaner here. Even the meth-heads get their due, and aren't mere boogeymen. One of the best debuts I've read. The best may be "Cold Hard Love," only because it teases us with the subject Bill's next novel, Donnybrook. Which like this book, will be one not to miss.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    The twigs you hear cracking out in the woods are the sounds of vengeance come home to roost.

    [This review was originally published at The Nervous Breakdown.]

    When you think of places where crime lurks, locations where you should keep the car rolling through stop signs, where you never stop to ask for directions, a few names may pop into your head. Maybe you think of Detroit or East St. Louis, Baltimore or Miami. It's time to add Corydon, Indiana, to that list, as well as the entire southern part of the state.

    In Frank Bill's violent, gut-wrenching, and heartfelt collection of short stories, Crimes in Southern Indiana, there is nowhere safe to hide-the criminals are happy to walk right in the front door pointing a shotgun in your face, spitting tobacco on the floor. A granddaughter is sold as a sex slave. A war veteran tries to forget the killings he committed out in the field as well as the abuse he inflicted on his family at home. Dogfights turn into moments of self-preservation and sudden morality. Family turns on itself while the police provide inadequate protection. All of this unfolds with a raw, unflinching portrayal of meth heads, delinquents, and lost souls searching for a way out. The stories are interlinked and overlapping, as it has to be in any small town, the hero in one story meeting his demise in another, the lawmaker in one tale becoming the criminal in the next.

    Early on we get a strong sense of what life what must be like in Corydon and the surrounding communities. In "All the Awful" we witness the sale of Audry by her grandfather, ironically named Able, into slavery, her young flesh an easy commodity to move on the black market:

    "One of the man's hands gripped Audry's wrists above her head. Forced them to the ground. She bucked her pelvis up. Wanted him off of her. The other hand groped the rounded shapes beneath her soiled wifebeater. Her eyes clasped. Held tears. The man's tobacco-stained lips and bourbon breath dragged against her neck."

    Suffice it to say that Audry has a bit of spite and spirit left, unwilling to succumb to the fate that has been dealt to her. It's a quick lesson on family and the men that inhabit the town she lives in, something she'll surely never forget.

    The fact that meth is a part of the lifestyle in Crimes in Southern Indiana is no shock-rural communities fall victim to the widespread drug, cheap to sell but dangerous to manufacture, explosions riddling the countryside and across the southlands. Eager to show both sides of the coin in his depiction of drug use and prosecution, Frank Bill takes on the mindset of the addict in "The Need," painting a vivid picture of an addled mind:

    "Speeding into the gravel curve, Wayne lost control of the Ford Courier, stomped the gas instead of the brake. Gunned the engine and met the wilderness of elms head-on. His head split the windshield, creating warm beads down his forehead, while flashbacks of an edge separating flesh and a screaming female amped through his memory.

    Blood flaked off as Wayne balled his hands into fists, remembering the need he could no longer contain."

    [For the rest of this review go to The Nervous Breakdown.]

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2011

    Gritty Fun

    Okay, I am an older woman, and at first I thought to myself, "This is a guy's book," but within two pages I was hooked. These are great stories. Frank Bill is a true talent and wordsmith. All the stories and characters are rough around the edges just as they should be, and every single tale grabs you and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Read these in the safety of the city or suburbs!

    Not your typical book club pick,this book reads like a Greek Tragedy set in the second growth woods of down, but not quite out, Southern Indiana. Survival is the goal & the author delivers stories in which it's hard to decide who to cheer on. Vivid images & compelling characters kept me reading!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2013

    Simply amazing

    If you like dark and gritty tales, then this book is a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

    Very gritty & savagely written. The details of the characte

    Very gritty & savagely written. The details of the characters & the interaction between them all is exceptional. Every character in the book has some fatal flaw, whether obvious or not. I couldn't put this book down, read it in 3 days.

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    Posted May 8, 2012

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    Posted February 23, 2012

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    Posted December 25, 2011

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    Posted April 20, 2012

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    Posted September 1, 2011

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    Posted January 25, 2013

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