Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: Edge of Dark Water

Summary: Mark Twain meets classic Stephen King--a bold new direction for widely acclaimed Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale.

May Lynn was once a pretty girl who dreamed of becoming a Hollywood star. Now she's dead, her body dredged up from the Sabine River.

Sue Ellen, May Lynn's strong-willed teenage friend, sets out to dig up May Lynn's body, burn it to ash, and take those ashes to Hollywood to spread around. If May Lynn can't become a star, then at least her ashes will end up in the land of her dreams.

Along with her friends Terry and Jinx and her alcoholic mother, Sue Ellen steals a raft and heads downriver to carry May Lynn's remains to Hollywood.

Only problem is, Sue Ellen has some stolen money that her enemies will do anything to get back. And what looks like a prime opportunity to escape from a worthless life will instead lead to disastrous consequences. In the end, Sue Ellen will learn a harsh lesson on just how hard growing up can really be. -- Mulholland

One of the benefits of doing these Mystery Monday posts is that I force myself to read some books that I might not have picked up otherwise. I'm not sure that I had to quite force myself to read EDGE OF DARK WATER by Joe R. Lansdale because the book summary did sound pretty darn intriguing and I do love books from the Mulholland imprint. However, I do know that I find that I moving mysteries up to the top of my TBR pile and this one jumped right on top.

EDGE OF DARK WATER is being described as a cross between Stephen King and Mark Twain, and I hate to sound unoriginal, but that's a pretty good description. It's a very well written novel in which the characters travel along a river on a raft, but it's also very creepy. EDGE OF DARK WATER tells the story of Sue Ellen and her friends (and her mom) as they embark on a life-altering adventure. When their friend May Lynn's body is found in the Sabine River, they decide to take her ashes to Hollywood and spread them around. (You see, May Lynn always wanted to be an actress.) First dig up their friend's body, burn it, and then set out floating downriver towards L.A. Sounds like a pretty simple (if naive plan), right? However, things get much more complicated because Sue Ellen took some money that didn't belong to her and there are some men who will stop at nothing to get it back.

EDGE OF DARK WATER was a fantastic read. It was well written, had some memorable characters, and honestly, it freaked me out! I read this book in almost one sitting because the pace is fast and I was dying to know what was going to happen to Sue Ellen and her friends. It was full of action and adventure, and I loved the mystery aspect because I couldn't figure out who was responsible for May Lynn's death. Oh yeah -- and did I mention that it was intense? There were a few scenes when Sue Ellen and her crew were being pursued by this larger-than-life Skunk character that I found to read almost like a horror story. I was literally on the edge of my seat!

But what surprised me the most was the way the author told the story. This book is so well done and I adored Mr. Lansdale's writing style. In many ways, it had the feel of a coming-of-age story (and you know how I'm a sucker for those types of books), and Sue Ellen was just the perfect narrator. I mentioned earlier how much I loved the pace of the story, and I thought the twists and turns, as well as the action-packed adventure, were outstanding. It truly is an original story that is guaranteed to capture your attention! This is my first reading experience with the Edgar Award winning author, but I'm sure it won't be my last.

While there is no doubt that the suspense aspects of this novel were excellent, I was also impressed with the character development. That basically started with Sue Ellen's character and went from there. I loved Sue Ellen's honesty and her humor, but I was also impressed by her courage, perseverance, and intelligence. However, the secondary characters were all really well developed as well. Sue Ellen's mom was able to break free from her demons and begin to discover who she really was, while Sue Ellen's friend Jinx was a sassy young woman who wasn't afraid to stand up for herself. But it was Terry, the young man who was questioning his sexuality who really stood out. I loved his character because I found him to be so real and so complex. I think what I enjoyed the most is how this "adventure" allowed each character to learn about their inner strengths and how it forever changed their lives.

EDGE OF DARK WATER is a truly unique mystery with some amazing characters. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


techeditor said...

I just finished NO MARK UPON HER by Deborah Crombie, an excellent mystery/thriller.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I think the Twain/King statement would have been enough to convince me to read it! ha It sounds really good. I never get tired of this genre. Never.

bermudaonion said...

Holy cow, they were going to dig up her body and try to cremate it themselves? This book sounds very compelling!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Mark Twain and Stephen King? What an interesting combo! Great review!

Beth F said...

I have this on my pile, but I haven't gotten to it. But the premise is good.