Friday, July 06, 2007
The Dark End of Town
The back flap of Julia Pomeroy's debut mystery says it "combines the suspense and intrigue of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series." I don't think so. Pomeroy has created her own community and character in The Dark End of Town, and I really see no similarity between the two.
Abby Silvernale is thirty-two, a widow with no children and no career, living in an old ugly trailer in Bantam, New York, and working in a dead-end job as a waitress. She's not going anywhere, and neither is her life in the bleak, dead-end town. Her husband committed suicide a few years earlier, and she can't get far enough past his death to even live in the farmhouse on her property. Instead, she rents it out and lives in the dilapidated trailer.
It doesn't look like Abby has anything going for her, but she is loyal to her friends, and she is independent. When Dulcie, her friend and the owner of the InnBetween restaurant, calls her and says someone is borrowing her car at night, Abby sits out in the grass and watches until she catches a young woman returning the car one night, locking it up and leaving. This one little incident, Abby's curiosity, and the urge to help a confused teenage boy, propel Abby into the muddle of murder, theft and violence.
Don't let the back flap of this book confuse you. Abby isn't Kinsey Millhone. Bantam isn't a "resort town" as I think of it, and Dulcie's restaurant doesn't come across as "trendy." Instead, this is a dark story of a woman leading a dead-end life in a community that is so depressed that the weekenders had to rescue the local hospital before it closed.
Pomeroy's characters are vividly portrayed, reflective of their background. Even the wealthy weekenders in Bantam seem desperate. Abby Silvernale embodies all of that loneliness and desperation, but she finds the strength to rise above it. When Pomeroy brings Abby back in the sequel, Cold Moon Home, I'll be eager to see her meet the next challenges head on. Abby will be up to the test.
Julia Pomeroy's website is www.juliapomeroy.com
The Dark End of Town by Julia Pomeroy. Carroll & Graf Publishers, ©2006. ISBN 978-0-78671-720-0 (paperback), 277p.