by Victor Gischler
“…solid noir from Gischler…”
Coyote Crossing is a dusty little shithole town in western Oklahoma. A sleepy little pit stop for truckers, not a lot going on. So a dead body in the middle of the street at midnight is quite an event. The chief of police wants all hands on deck, so he calls Toby Sawyer to come babysit the body.
Toby doesn’t have a lot going for him. Twenty-five, a couple of years of junior college, married to a girl he got pregnant and living in a trailer on the edge of town. He’s working part time for the police department, hoping the budget comes through and they can put him on full time, so he can get health benefits. His wife is a waitress at a little crap diner near the railroad tracks. When he gets the call about the dead body, he pins his tin star to his Weezer t-shirt, slips into a pair of sweatpants and grabs his revolver.
“At the start of this solid noir from Gischler (Suicide Squeeze), the police chief of Coyote Crossing, Okla., asks Toby Sawyer, a part-time deputy, to keep an eye on the bullet-ridden body of redneck Luke Jordan, found late one night lying half-in and half-out of an old pickup truck. Since a 17-year-old girl Toby’s fond of lives nearby, he can’t resist the temptation to take a break from his vigil. On returning to the truck and discovering the corpse gone, Toby fears his dereliction of duty will end his job with the sheriff’s office. In the course of his desperate search for the cadaver, Toby encounters a truckload of illegal Mexican aliens as well as corrupt colleagues. Meanwhile, as the body count rises, Toby’s wife, with whom he has a loveless marriage, leaves town. The ending may be a bit upbeat for true noir devotees, but it leaves the door open for a sequel, which would be a welcome prospect, given Toby’s appeal as a protagonist.”
“Now this is about as fast-fucking-paced as books get, one giant hair-raising game of out-of-the-frying-pan-and-into-fire. But what makes The Deputy really sing is the sad little realities of Toby’s fucked life. He lives in a shit shack of a trailer with a girl he knocked up and their kid, neither party in the marriage having wanted this going-nowhere-fast existence in this deader-than-dead-fucking-end hellhole of a town. Toby is cheating, his wife is cheating, and when Toby’s numbed existence as a failed rock-and-roller is upturned by this crazy night’s events, it’s arguably the best thing to ever happen to him. That Gischler can squeeze all this fantastic character work into the book’s timeline, which is really just a few hours and billion awesome action set-pieces long, is a testament to his storytelling abilities.
Make no mistake: this shit is just as fast and funny as what we’ve come to expect from the man who gave us such classics as Pistol Poets and Shotgun Opera; it’s just that this time out it hurts more, the characters dig under a couple more layers of your skin. The Deputy is Victor Gischler’s finest book to date, and you better fucking believe that’s fucking saying something.”