Penzler Pick, September 2000: T.R. Pearson is not known for writing mysteries, but this, his first novel in seven years, definitely falls into that category. Ray Tatum and his dog, Monroe, are on a journey to Hogarth, a small town in Virginia. Ray is taking the job of deputy sheriff in this small town, known for nothing except its proximity to the Appalachian Trail.
At first Ray spends his time with his colleagues, eating burgers and ignoring local drivers who exceed the speed limit while stopping tourists who drive three miles over it. However, Ray has no sooner settled into this bucolic existence when hikers on the A.P., as it is known, discover a skeleton of a man that has been just off the main trail for some time. Ray will have to solve this gruesome murder with help from a group of rusty law enforcement officers and a park ranger with the unlikely name of Kit Carson, a black woman whose filthy mouth has protected her from the local good ole boys she's forced to deal with every day.
In a parallel story, Paul Tatum, Ray's cousin, an insurance actuary from Roanoke, is called by the police and asked to come to New York City to identify a body believed to be that of his son. Paul hardly remembers he has a son, the result of a brief affair with the boy's mother. But he does carry around a faded picture of Troy as a little boy, so he sets out for New York knowing that there is little chance of him being able to identify the body. When he arrives, he discovers there is not much left of Troy, whose head is missing. With the help of Troy's would-be actress neighbor, Paul is able to make the identification, but then his troubles really begin. Accosted by two strange men named Giles and Jumbo, Paul finds himself transported via black limousine through the underbelly of New York. He finds out more about his son and his son's life than he ever wanted to know.
Ray and Paul Tatum are very different men, both caught up in worlds they hardly understand. Pearson's writing, funny and taut, will make it difficult for any reader to put down the story of these likable men. --Otto Penzler [via]