Gas City by Loren Estleman

Amazing book – not so much for the plot or the characters as for the whole package. Set in a mythical city, presumably in the Midwestern US, this story involves two major plotlines – the police chief, who has just buried his wife, has decided to buck the system he’s supported for years and actually enforce the law, even in “the circle,” the part of town ruled by criminals. And someone is butchering women and leaving their parts in garbage bags around the city. Both of these plotlines intersect in a hotel detective and erstwhile alcoholic pimp, who comes out of his haze when he has a chance to do some real detecting.

Estleman has always had a yen for the past (in books like Retro) but here the world of Gas City is hermetically sealed, a world unto itself, where people occasionally use phrases that are from the 1930s and yet the police chief has a son who died years ago in Vietnam. Though it’s somewhat disorienting, it’s a richly detailed, internally consistent, and lavishly described fictional universe, full of lyrical passages and sometimes hilarious throwaway lines.

This is one of those books you have to give yourself to. Adapt to its pace, savor the lines, and don’t worry about what time it is.

3 Responses to Gas City by Loren Estleman

  1. Kerrie says:

    Just letting you know Barbara that I have given you an “award”. See http://paradise-mysteries.blogspot.com/2008/07/my-first-award.html which explains all.

  2. Barbara says:

    Oh my!! thanks so much.

  3. Bobbie says:

    Barbara, I agree. This was ‘the whole package’, and done so well. Here are my notes from when I read it earlier this year: ‘GREAT setting, GREAT characters and a long involved story that was terrific! every word perfect, no flaws at all.’ I read it last Feb and it’s still one I very highly recommend and will be in my top faves for the year–I grade my own reads A,B,C,D,F and this one got an A+ from me. Thanks for your words, you say it so well. Bobbie

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