Sue Ellen is a 16 year old girl living in rural east Texas; she has a mean, near toothless daddy, and a weak, alcoholic mother, and she holds a piece of stove wood at night to protect herself at home. When she is out fishing, her net gets caught on a sewing machine and out pops the body of her beautiful friend May Lynn.
Sue Ellen decided that death in a river is not a suitable end for May Lynn, who had ambitions to move out to Hollywood. So, with two friends, her alcoholic mother, and May Lynn’s ashes, Sue Ellen sets out down the river to catch a bus to California. The trouble is, on her way out of town, they steal some money from people who would give anything to get it back.
The resulting trip downriver has been called a cross between Deliverance and Huckleberry Finn and I couldn’t have said it better myself. Edge of Dark Water is at times a thriller, a mystery, and an adventure novel, but it is always excellent. Perhaps my favorite description, and it’s certainly apt, is Joe Hill’s “hillbilly noir”. Joe R. Lansdale is writing (champion mojo) southern gothic fiction (with a twist of horror) at its best. While it is only July, I predict this book may make my top ten fiction list of 2012 (curious about my top ten 2011? find it here).