Edge of Dark Water
by Joe R. Lansdale
Little, Brown, 2012. 292 pgs. Mystery
When Sue Ellen, Terry, and Jinx's friend May Lynn is pulled dead from the river with a sewing machine tied to her leg, the kids decide to raft down the Sabine River to a town where they can catch a bus to Hollywood and scatter her ashes, because that's where she wanted to be. They don't have any money, but thanks to May Lynn's journal they find a stash of bank robbery loot and set off, with Sue Ellen's abused, drugged-out mother along for the ride. The missing money gets them followed by Sue Ellen's icky Uncle Gene, Constable Sy, and a truly scary sociopathic character named Skunk, who is given to cutting off people's hands after he has killed them. After a couple of detours in the unhappy minister's home, and the wicked old woman's cabin, the travelers find themselves desperately fighting for their lives in a battle Skunk seems certain to win. A fine thriller, Edge of Dark Water is also laugh out loud funny in a Twainsy kind of way, and a thoughtful, poignant character study of young people with few or no prospects who find themselves in a life-threatening, life-changing moments. So well done. One of the best of Joe Landsdale's very fine works.