Thursday, December 17, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: All That I Have by Castle Freeman Jr.

 Many years ago, I somehow acquired two short works by Castle Freeman, Jr.: Go With Me and All That I Have.  I thoroughly enjoyed them both. I reviewed Go With Me. I’m not sure why I didn’t review All That I Have.

However, on Netgalley, I saw a new book offered, Children of the Valley, which is the third book in the Lucian Wing series. It turns out that book one was All That I Have. So, book three is now on my kindle queue, but before I can read it I had to re-read book one and chase down book two.  Book two is difficult to find, but I ordered it from the Book Depository and should have it sometime in mid-January! In the meantime, I re-read book one.

All That I Have
is narrated by a small-time rural Vermont county sheriff, Lucian Wing. Most of his job is small potatoes. He is an elected official and, as he states, most people want the sheriff to do his job, just not on them. So he mostly takes a laid-back approach that he learned from his mentor, the now-retired Sheriff Wingate.

Things get a bit rough when a Russian mafia boss buys a large gated property in one of the towns, visiting only rarely, but storing stuff there. Someone breaks in (most likely Sean Duke, a local delinquent) and steals a small safe. The Russians are angry. They send various goons to locate the safe and beat the hell out of anyone who may know where it is. They are internationally dangerous people, the likes of which the locals have never seen.

Sheriff Wing has to solve the crime, meaning locate the safe, even though he knows the Russians are up to no good. He knows Sean is the thief, but Sean is a local boy and Wing doesn’t want to come down too hard on him–or see him dead.

At the same time, Wing’s marriage is going through a slow-motion marital crisis. He and his wife love one another, but they communicate poorly. This is shown rather brilliantly through Wing’s eyes.

The novel is short, only 164 pages, but a lot of story is packed into those pages. The author does a wonderful job of creating Wing’s voice, showing his laconic dry humor and commonsense approach to sheriffing. I’m thrilled to rediscover this author and can’t wait for book two to arrive, so I can continue the series.

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