Lonesome Animals

Lonesome Animals

5.0 1
by Bruce Holbert
     
 

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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<

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.

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)
From the Publisher

Praise for Lonesome Animals

"From the opening sentence of Holbert's remarkable debut, it is obvious that we are in the hands of a master storyteller . . . 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." —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Holbert’s unsettling book demands a strong 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… 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… Holbert has gone all-in: This book is audacious.” —Kirkus

"A gripping murder story and incandescent moral fable, set in hardscrabble Eastern Washington during the Great Depression. Retired lawman Russell Strawl is literally back in the saddle, hired to roam the land and find the brutal killer of local Indians. What he learns is shocking but, in retrospect, inevitable. Added punch: Spokane resident Holbert loosely based Strawl on his great-grandfather — Indian scout, early settler and all-around tough old bastard." —Seattle Times, Best Mysteries of 2012

"Lonesome Animals is an impure marvel. Ths cowboy noir is loaded with lyrical detail, black humor, and a kind of antic despair. At its center is the compromised lawman Russell Strawl, a pilgrim making slow progress through the blasted ruins of Western myth. He turns violence into a kind of brutal music and provides the weary, stubborn heart of this astonishing debut."
—Max Phillips, Shamus-winning author of Fade to Blonde

"Lonesome Animals is dark, beautiful, compelling, strange, vivid; part Western, part detective story, altogether brilliant. With the authority of myth, it is a book obsessed with justice and history, and its two main characters—the retired lawman Russell Strawl and his prophet son Elijah—are as harrowing and moving a marriage as I have read in years. It’s an incredible book by an incredible author. It will break your heart and leave you gasping."—Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Giant's House

"Lonesome Animals is exhilarating. The dialogue will blow your hair back, the description of land is prose poetry, and the violence is shocking for its intensity and sudden occurrence. This is a study of morality in a world that has lost its morals, a work that transcends its epic story of good versus evil. No character is spared and neither is the reader. Bruce Holbert’s fierce novel will enter the canon as a classic." —Chris Offutt, author of Kentucky Straight

"A lyrical, almost poetic novel. Holbert vividly captures the essence of his characters and of the place that spawned them in Lonesome Animals." —Mystery Maven Blog

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781619021563
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
05/14/2013
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
620,219
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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Lonesome Animals 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
GingerM65 More than 1 year ago
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.