Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A Killing in Quail County: Jameson Cole


This is a terrific mystery narrated by a teenage boy, Mark Stoddard, growing up in Oklahoma, living with his older brother, Jess, after their parents die in an accident.

From the summary on the book cover:
There's not much danger evident in Bob White, Oklahoma, in 1957. In a small town where doors are left unlocked at night, everyone knows your name, and alcohol is strictly forbidden, it's difficult even for a fifteen-year-old boy to get in trouble. 
But Mark Stoddard has his ways, and with the help of his best friend Ferret and Ferret's newly arrived tomboy cousin TJ, Mark is determined to spice up his summer – and win the respect of his older brother Jess, the local deputy sheriff, by catching a local bootlegger, an evil old man with a deadly grudge against Jess

This story is narrated by a teenager, but it is also a mystery with adult themes. Mark is optimistic in his goal of looking for the local bootlegger, but there are inevitably complications and it is more dangerous than he expected. In addition to this, there are undercurrents in the small town that he doesn't understand. Life is not as simple as it seems.

There is a stranger in town that many people resent because they assume that the man is homosexual, based on his attire and behavior. When this stranger is found dead, Mark assumes that the bootlegger had something to do with it, but things may not be that simple. There are a lot of assumptions going on in this small town.

I liked the first person narration by Mark; the reader knows the story only from his experiences and point of view. Mark is having a hard time adjusting to losing his parents and being ignored at times by his brother, but Jess is having to handle a demanding job and acting as a parent/guardian to his brother at a young age.

The teenage characters are depicted especially well. Mark's friend Ferret has a female cousin, TJ, about the same age as the two boys, visiting from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is living with Ferret's family for the summer because her father and mother are getting a divorce. The relationships and personal problems of the teenagers are a part of the story, but the mystery is the main focus.

I found this to be a thought-provoking story and a page-turner. I wish more people would discover this novel. I learned about A Killing in Quail County from Richard Robinson's review at Tip the Wink, and he generously gave me his copy of the book to read. It is a lovely book, and I am glad I read it.


 -----------------------------

Publisher:   St. Martin's Press, 1996
Length:      306 pages
Format:      Hardcover
Setting:      Oklahoma, USA, 1957
Genre:       Mystery
Source:      A gift.


16 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Tracy, since I liked it a lot too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did enjoy it, Rick, and was glad to learn of the book. I also thought the ending was very effective, which always is a plus for me.

      Delete
  2. But no available on Kindle! What a shame - you had convinced me to at least look at it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a shame, Debbie. I prefer reading paper books, but I see the benefits of e-books for sure.

      Delete
  3. This does sound appealing, Tracy. It's not easy to create a credible teen voice, but when it works, it certainly can be quite effective. I'm glad that you thought it was here. And the small town setting sounds like a very effective fit for the story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The small town setting was very appealing, Margot, especially since I have never lived in a small town.

      Delete
  4. I see the hardcover is available for $20 and there are paperback copies for about $5, so this shouldn't be out of reach for anyone who's interested.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Rick, there are reasonably priced copies for those who want to try the book.

      Delete
  5. I now have a copy on my tbr pile. Think I will enjoy it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think so, too, Cath. Oklahoma, 1950's, family issues, lots to like here.

      Delete
  6. Sounds like a humdinger, Tracy, but I see there still is no Kindle version. I like the idea of a teenager's relatively inexperienced viewpoint delving into a clearly adult world, sort of a Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew coming of age while we watch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a very apt description, Mathew. I wish there was a kindle edition; I am sure the book would get more readers that way.

      Delete
  7. I like the sound of this, the kind of book I really enjoy - very tempted. Had never heard of it, or the author. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The author and the book were new to me also, Moira. And I was so glad to discover it.

      Delete