Murder Ink: Unforgettable
Latest from Attica Locke tops fall harvest

Murder Ink: Unforgettable
Jeffrey Mannix - 10/05/2017

Fall brings a rush of new book releases for some peculiar reason. I’m bleary-eyed separating the wheat from the chaff, and if I were limited to bringing only one book to you it would be Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke and from eagle-eyed Mulholland Books. But in this column, I feel it necessary to point out a few other stunning new releases and sacrifice my fun cobbling together remarkable wordsmithing. A novel is more or less a year in the making, and by unfortunate coincidence Bluebird, Blue-bird arrives now to memorialize the omnipresent prejudices we’ve been so disconcertedly witnessing over that period of time. The book follows black Texas Ranger Darren Mathews, a former law student following an uncle into the elite, primarily white law enforcement agency. Ignobly assigned to his  East Texas Highway 59 off ramp hometown of Lark to investigate the murders of a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman, we have a slow drip of gasoline pooling. If you know the South, you know how much trouble can heat up when a six-point star on a khaki shirt covering a black torso shows up in a rural fiefdom. But as poignant as this story is, it’s Locke’s elegiac writing and her characters that make this book unforgettable, even beautiful. Locke’s feelings of being black are so fervent it makes Bluebird, Bluebird a work of literature that will make you cry and read slowly to delay the ending.

Seventh Street Books has once again tiptoed out on a limb to bring an unlikely book that was probably turned down by every publisher in Gotham. The Bloody Black Flag by Steve Goble is at the same time an absurd, swashbuckling, charming and absorbing story of pirates on a brigantine with all the cliched characters and antics. This is a short book that’ll set you back the cost of a taco at Nini’s. At first, The Bloody Black Flag appears as a simplistic burlesque on the high seas of yesteryear. But soon it’s apparent that there’s a backstory, another way to read it that inspires true admiration for Goble’s chutzpah and skill as a writer. You’d be poorer if you didn’t treat yourself to this morsel.

Karin Slaughter must have been chained to a desk with her hands manacled onto a keyboard – she looks way too young to have written 22 novels, a couple volumes of short stories and still look like a Millennial on her dustcover photo. I usually let the bow wave made by these marquee fictionists propel their own books, but a few pages of William Morrow’s August release of The Good Daughter by Slaughter kept me up way past my 2 a.m. reading limit. In two days, I had finished this 500 pager. It’s a big-screen story with very vivid characters, and I hadn’t remembered

or perhaps even known just how talented Slaughter is. The Good Daughter is a dense psychological thriller focused on a heretical lawyer in Pikesville, Ga., who defends the downtrodden and disadvantaged and suffers the murderous excoriation of his bigoted community. His two daughters, both of whom become lawyers in his shadow, barely live through ongoing Cracker vengeance as again the South shows its cosseted underbelly. It’s stylishly gruesome in a few short scenes. But for those few pages on which deplorables prevail, Slaughter has spun a deeply poignant tale of lives of quiet desperation and lingering suspicions that we’re not all up to the standards to which we pledge allegiance.

Finally, and for the bookish reader, I’d like to introduce a stunning new translation by Sergio Waisman of the Argentine icon Ricardo Piglia’s Target in the Night. This is a detective story and the work of a writer the likes of which we haven’t seen since the great days of the early French noir writers.

Tony Dura?n, half black, half Puerto Rican, raised in New Jersey, comes to visit two mischievous, pampered twin sisters in their small town in the province of Buenos Aires with a satchel full of American dough and no inhibitions over flaunting a me?nage a? trois. Dura?n is stabbed to death in his hotel room for no apparent reason and thus enters the Don Quixote of detectives, Inspector Croce. That’s all you’ll get from me except to say that after one sitting with Target in the Night, you will know that you have discovered a unique talent – and a feather in your cap for realizing it.

All of the above are available at Maria’s Bookshop. Mention “Murder Ink” for a 10 percent discount.

Top Shelf

Indie rock'n'roller, uptown jazz and math rock
Indie rock'n'roller, uptown jazz and math rock
By Chris Aaland
02/21/2019

When did you first discover Martha Scanlan? For me, it was around 2001, when her old-time bluegrass outfit, Reeltime Travelers, began appearing on the festival circuit, playing the old Silverton Jubilee, the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown, Telluride Bluegrass and RockyGrass.

Heart strings, infamous strings & belly laughs
Heart strings, infamous strings & belly laughs
By Chris Aaland
02/14/2019

Life sure keeps you busy. My boy, Otto – fresh off being named to the honor roll! – turned 12, requiring a night out with the family Tuesday.

Boring Bowl, The Dude sells out & Hillbilly Poetry
Boring Bowl, The Dude sells out & Hillbilly Poetry
By Chris Aaland
02/07/2019

Now that was boring. Not only was Sunday’s Super Bowl the lowest scoring ever, but it was my first completely sober Super Bowl since 1986 ... and I was 17 then.

Snowdown's greatest hits
Snowdown's greatest hits
By Chris Aaland
01/31/2019

Unless you live in a cave, you’ve probably noticed a number of people flying about downtown dressed in masks and capes. It’s Snowdown week! This year’s theme is “Get Your Comic On,” which brings a bit of Comic-Con to our quaint mountain borough.

Read All in Top Shelf

Day in the Life

Earth tones
Earth tones
By Stephen Eginoire
02/21/2019

Tired of looking at harsh, reflective white? Then feast your eyes on the gentler, subtler hues of winter. For most, winter brown is an acquired taste.

Rollin' a fattie
Rollin' a fattie
By Stephen Eginoire
02/14/2019

The 5th annual Silverton Whiteout kicked off last Saturday as fat bikers from ’round the hood and beyond rode lap after lap on a well-groomed 9.2-mile loop for 10 straight hours.

A bunch of comics: A look at the Snowdown that was
A bunch of comics: A look at the Snowdown that was
02/07/2019

Well, there you have it folks. Durango’s 41st Snowdown celebration is in the bag. 

Taking off the Chill
Taking off the Chill
By Stephen Eginoire
01/31/2019

With the shortest days of year in the rearview mirror, the sun a little higher and the days a little longer, our orientation toward the sun favors less chilly walks in the great outdoors, and certainly less GoreTex (on a nice day, of course.)

Read All in Day on the Life