Walker & Company, Jan 2008, $21.95
Two years have passed since John Turner sat with his beloved Bal Bjorn on his porch when she was shot and killed. Psychiatrists say time heals all wounds, but John knows otherwise as he still grieves his loss. The former cop has since become sheriff of the dying rural town that lies between Memphis and Soon No More.
Turner sits on a bench on economically depressed Main Street discussing with Doc how ugly life is except for the banjo. Suddenly, a speeding car driven by Billy Bates is out of control and crashes into city hall. As Billy is taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital, Turner investigates the return of the troubled son of former sheriff Lonnie Bates. What he finds deeply shakes him to his already troubled soul.
The return of that great twenty-first century southern philosopher John Turner (see CYPRESS GROVE and CRIPPLE CREEK) will be fully appreciated by fans of James Sallis. The investigations (the other one involves his musician pal Eldon) is well written, but is used to enhance the deep look at a dying way of life. The writing is fabulous as the depressed area is vividly depicted mostly through Turner’s musings on living, music, and dying. Readers who appreciate a strong regional tale that focuses on the human condition will relish SALT RIVER in which the police procedural elements are used to provide a powerful spotlight on the last death kicks of a once thriving era that has turned geriatric.