Friday, 7 December 2012

VBT - Book review & Tour - Twilight of the Drifter by Shelly Frome

Twilight of the Drifter
By Shelly Frome

Genre: “A laudable crime thriller with a Southern setting”—Kirkus Reviews

Publisher:  Sunbury Press; released in January 2012


"Twilight of the Drifter" is a crime story with southern Gothic overtones. It centers on thirty-something Josh Devlin, a failed journalist who, after a year of wandering, winds up in a Kentucky homeless shelter on a wintry December. Soon after the opening setup, the crosscurrents go into motion as Josh comes upon a runaway named Alice holed up in an abandoned boxcar. Taken with her plight and dejected over his own squandered life, he spirits her back to Memphis and his uncle's Blues Hall Cafe. From there he tries to get back on his feet while seeking a solution to Alice's troubles. As the story unfolds, a Delta bluesman's checkered past comes into play and, inevitably, Josh finds himself on a collision course with a backwoods tracker fixated on the Civil War and, by extension, the machinations of the governor-elect of Mississippi. In a sense, this tale hinges on the vagaries of chance and human nature. At the same time, an underlying force appears to be driving the action as though seeking the truth and long awaited redemption. Or, to put it another way, past sins have finally come due in the present..


Wolf Creek was silent again, shrouded and hidden away in the fading early December light.   
            Then the cracking sound of wood as the old hunter’s blind gave way somewhere in the near distance, a sudden scream and a muffled thud. The cracking sound was not nearly as sharp as the first gunshot or the second, the scream not at all as piercing as the first cry or as grating as the moans that followed and faded.
           The coonhound took off immediately, ignoring the touch of frost in the creek water, the obstacle course of fallen tree limbs and bare forked branches, the muddy slope and the snare and tangle of vines and whip-like saplings. Within seconds, the hound was bounding higher until he came upon a prone scrawny figure totally unlike the one that had just fallen on the opposite bank.    
            Sniffing around, barking and howling, the hound snapped at the flimsy jacket and bit into it.  As the scrawny little figure began to stir, he tore into the sleeve, ripping it to shreds and barked and howled again, turning back for instructions. The sight of the skinny flailing arms sent the coonhound back on its haunches—half guarding, half confused as it turned around yet again, looking down the slope to the creek bed, still waiting for a signal.
            Presently, a tall, rangy man made his way across the same obstacle course, long-handled shovel in hand. But he was only in time to catch sight of a girl clutching her head, staggering away from the scene through the tangles and deepening shadows. Then again, it could’ve been a boy for all he knew, but he settled on a girl, a flat-chested tomboy, more like. Casting his gaze up to the snapped rungs of the tree-ladder, he spotted the broken edge of the rotting hunters blind some eight feet above where she could’ve seen everything.
            The coonhound began circling around him, displaying the shards of material dangling from his jaw.  Instinctively, the man rushed forward. Then he thought better of it as his overalls got snagged in the brambles. From the look of things, the girl was probably dazed and confused and wouldn't get as far as the dirt drive, if that.
            Wrong guess. The slam of a hood as the flat-bed’s worn V-8 motor fired-up, the grinding of gears and the familiar whine and squeal of tires signaled the tomboy was away and well out of reach.

This is a gritty crime thriller set mainly in the Mississippi Delta, with lots of colourful characters. Each of them seem to have been failures at some stage of their life and just seem to fighting their way through from day to day. They all have a story to tell. To me, I like to be able to get into a book within the first chapter and immerse myself into the lives of everyone in the book. The problem for me was that I just couldn't picture the characters and felt that the author had not (for me anyway) written them descriptively enough. 
A lot of the book was written with a US Southern Dialect and some of it did not translate well into UK English and I had to keep checking on my kindle to find out what some words meant. This frustrated me. 
It was a good story line, and there were lots of elements to the plot. It just didn't really get going for me and I needed it to be a faster pace to grip me, which is what I normally expect from a thriller and left me wanting more. 
However, please don't let my review put you off, as this book has received many excellent 5 star reviews on several websites, especially in the US. It just wasn't for me.


  Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of mysteries, books on theater and film, and articles on the performing arts appearing in a number of periodicals in the U.S. and the U.K. He is also a film critic and a contributor to writers’ blogs. His fiction includes Lilac Moon, Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Tinseltown Riff and the trans-Atlantic cozy The Twinning Murders. Among his works of non-fiction are the acclaimed The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage.  Twilight of the Drifter, his latest novel, is a southern Gothic crime-and-blues odyssey.

Follow Shelly's Tour:

November 11 - Introduction at VBT Cafe' Blog
November 13 - Interviewed at Mass Musings
November 15 - Author Interviewed at Thrice The Mischief, 3 Times The Love
November 20 - Guest Blogging at BK Walker Books Etc.
November 25 - Interviewed at BK Walker's Blog
November 29 - Interviewed at Where Fantasy Meets Reality
December 3 - Book Feature & Excerpt at The Writing World
December 5 - Guest Blogging at AZ Publishing Services
December 7 - Reviewed at Bookalicious Travel Addict
December 10 - Guest Blogging at Marketing Cafe'
December 12 - Guest Blogging at Lori's Reading Corner
December 14 - Book Feature & Excerpt at The Official Blog-Zine of Terra Little
December 17 - Guest Blogging at Wise Words
December 18 - Interviewed at MK McClintock's Blog
December 19 - Guest Blogging at My World
December 21 - Guest Blogging at My Life...One Story At A Time
December 26 - Guest Blogging at Cindy Vine's Blog
December 28 - Book Feature & Excerpt at The Stuff Of Success
January 2 - Book Feature & Excerpt at Books, Books, The Magical Fruit
January 4 - Interviewed at From The Mind Of Omegia
January 8 - Review & Guest Blogging at A Book Lover's Library
January 10 - Reviewed at Kaisy Daisy's Corner
January 12 - Book Feature & Excerpt at Mom With A Kindle
January 14 - Review & Interview at Central Bargains and Giveaways
January 16 - Book Feature & Excerpt at The Stuff of Success
January 18 - Review & Guest Blogging at 5 Girls Book Reviews 
Thanks to Virtual Book Tour Cafe for allowing me to host this VBT.