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The nature of truth, the minefield of emotions between fathers and sons, and the madness of vengeance converge in Shamus-winner Wright's intricate first stand-alone. Randall Wilkes, fired from his job as a top Chicago newspaper reporter, limps back to his hometown in rural Tennessee to write a biography of his childhood friend, former governor Sonny McMahan. Almost immediately, Sonny's elderly mother and her young caregiver are brutally murdered, and Sonny's reprobate father, reported dead, reappears. When a decades-old skeleton is recovered and identified as Randall's first love, he puts the biography aside and sets out to find the killers. The complex plot makes the most of tangled smalltown connections, moving fluidly from nostalgic remembrances, ruminations on friendship and filial devotion, to old-fashioned suspense and violence. Wright (Red Sky Lament) captures the rich, earthy essence of the South and wraps up his story with a sweet coda, all the more touching for being understated. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.