Lonesome Animals

( 1 )

Overview

Russell Strawl is called out of retirement to hunt a serial killer who has been leaving elaborately carved bodies of Native Americans across three counties. Strawl’s own dark and violent history weaves itself into the hunt, shedding light on the remains of his broken family, which in turn leads him to the identity of the killer.

In the vein of True Grit and Blood Meridian, Lonesome Animals is a western novel reinvented, a detective story inverted for the west. It is also about ...

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Lonesome Animals

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Overview

Russell Strawl is called out of retirement to hunt a serial killer who has been leaving elaborately carved bodies of Native Americans across three counties. Strawl’s own dark and violent history weaves itself into the hunt, shedding light on the remains of his broken family, which in turn leads him to the identity of the killer.

In the vein of True Grit and Blood Meridian, Lonesome Animals is a western novel reinvented, a detective story inverted for the west. It is also about one man’s urgent, elegiac search for justice amidst the craven acts committed on the edges of civilization.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
From the opening sentence of Holbert's remarkable debut, it is obvious that we are in the hands of a master storyteller. The time is Depression-era Washington State, the end of the frontier west still a living memory, and violence a frequent resolution to conflict. Former lawman Russell Strawl, himself no stranger to bloodshed, has been brought out of retirement to track a serial killer who has left a gruesome trail of murdered Indians, each ritualistically carved up. Strawl's investigative methods are often startling and brutal, yet effective, which have earned him respect and fear. Accompanied by his stepson, Elijah, a Salish Indian savant who quotes scripture constantly and fancies himself a prophet, Strawl relentlessly pursues his quarry. As the narrative proceeds, and the body count rises, more and more is revealed about Strawl's own turbulent past, which includes a fractured family and no shortage of madness and violence. Holbert's prose is simultaneously roughly hewn and elegant, and recalls Cormac McCarthy at his best, as do his insights into the relationship between predator and prey. Call it literary fiction, classic western realism, or historical noir, Holbert is a writer of formidable skill and this auspicious debut should have considerable crossover appeal. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
A bloody Western set during the 1930s, Holbert's debut novel follows an amoral lawman hunting an amoral killer in the rugged, rapidly changing rural counties of Washington State. Holbert's unsettling book demands a strong stomach: The violence is graphic, and sublime prose is cheek-by-jowl with ridiculous conceits. Whether the violence is gratuitous is a question the book begs but avoids answering, but one's pleasure may turn with one's stomach. At the end the reader will feel relief or satisfaction or some combination, and tip a sweat-stained hat to Holbert for raising the stakes of the Western genre. The protagonist Russell Strawl's name says it all, rhyming with drawl and squall, but the participle of another rhyme is the best word to describe him: appalling. Pure antagonism, Strawl travels light as a contagious disease and falls like a curse. He has superhuman hearing, which seems a prerequisite for his in- or sub-human behavior. We are expected to believe in types: in Keystonish cops, fops, sots and a young man who answers only to the name of a prophet. The plot is as tortured as the killer's victims. Holbert's sympathies seem to align with the quality of his prose: The land is rendered in loving, even exquisite detail, so too the crimes. The characters' minds are infernal, and at its best the prose makes the darkness visible. Holbert has gone all-in: This book is audacious. It reaches the heights and then keeps rising so far over the top one doesn't know how to take it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781619021563
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 5/14/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 316,538
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Holbert is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. His work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Hotel Amerika, Other Voices, The Antioch Review, Crab Creek Review, The West Wind Review, and Cairn. Bruce Holbert grew up at the foot of the Okanogan Mountains. His great-grandfather was an Indian scout and among the first settlers of the Grand Coulee.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 26, 2013

    One of the best books that I have read in a long time. Gruesome

    One of the best books that I have read in a long time. Gruesome in places but fits the story. Writing is spectacular. You feel like you know all of the characters personally. Would not recommend to all of my friends but for a select few, yes, you will be glad that you have read this book.

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