Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pg. 69: Phillip DePoy's "The Drifter's Wheel"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Phillip DePoy's The Drifter's Wheel.

About the book, from the publisher:
Fever Devilin, born and raised amongst the hill country folk of the Georgia Appalachians, left home a long time ago and pursued an education, then a career, in the wider outside world. A folklorist by inclination and profession, he left the strange world of academia behind to return to his family-home in the if-anything-stranger mountain town he grew up in. But oddness follows Fever wherever he goes and Blue Mountain, Georgia is no different.

When a man shows up at his house, claiming to be over a hundred years old even though he looks like he’s in his 30’s, Fever is pretty sure his guest is not right. When the man starts to wave a gun around, then falls suddenly asleep immediately afterward, Fever thinks he’s both "not right" and "dangerous" and slips out to call the sheriff. The sheriff, Fever’s childhood friend, has been hearing reports of this particular vagrant all day but before he can get out there, the man disappears.

In the early morning, the body of man that fits the description of the mysterious vagrant is found by the side of the road, shot to death. But, although the body is wearing the same clothes that the vagrant was, it isn’t the same person.
Among the early praise for the novel:
"Mountain folk taunt a folklorist by wandering down a corridor of eternity. Fever Devilin, who reluctantly returned to Blue Mountain, Ga., when his Atlanta university excised his folklore department (A Widow's Curse, 2007, etc.), is visited one night by a man claiming to have killed his own brother. Not recently, mind you, but in the Civil War era. Many stories later this same man claims to have killed his brother again during World War I. Now he's back again to have a third go at him. He sprints away before Devilin can grasp either him or his full story. The next Devilin hears of his visitor, Sheriff Skidmore Needle wants Devilin to identify the man's dead body. The victim, however, turns out not to be the confessed killer, but someone who looks enough like the killer to pass for his brother. Strangely, Hovis Daniels, an old-timer living in a shack on property belonging to the time traveler's kinfolk, and Devilin's fiancee Lucinda, a hospital nurse, have also been visited. Thus begins a race through revenant country, in which brothers smite each other, families pass down gold-in-these-hills legends and holding on to prisoners and sanity is complicated by apple brandy moonshine. Storytelling at its best: a beguiling mystery that's almost impossible to figure out or put down. And if you're looking for wit, check out the exchanges between Devilin and his pal Winton Andrews."
--Kirkus (starred review)

"At the start of DePoy's atmospheric fifth novel to feature folklorist Fever Devilin (after 2007's A Widow's Curse), an intense and nervous young man claiming to be 100 years old arrives at Devilin's home in the Georgia Appalachians. The visitor vividly recounts his time in the brothels in Chicago when the tango was new and his experiences in the trenches of WWI. But when the man starts waving a gun around just before slipping into a narcoleptic sleep, Devilin thinks it best to call in expert assistance. The stranger disappears before the sheriff arrives; several hours later, the body of a drifter turns up nearby wearing the same clothes as Devilin's visitor. Devilin is determined to solve the crime and uncover whether the murder victim and the peculiar storyteller are one and the same. Unsettling and engaging throughout, this solidly enjoyable tale will keep readers guessing until the end."
--Publishers Weekly

"The arrival of a young man at Fever Devilin's house in Blue Mountain, GA, upsets the folklorist's quiet life. The stranger ends up dead, but Fever is convinced that the deceased man is not the one who visited him. Investigating this puzzle leads Fever to unraveling the secrets held by a reclusive but influential family in the area and the possibility that the stranger is really a time traveler come back to murder again. As in his other outstanding mysteries (e.g., The Widow's Curse), DePoy's latest concocts a delicious brew of Southern culture laced with a dollop of the supernatural, topped by unexpected denouements leaving readers wanting more. Sure to appeal to patrons who enjoy Sharon McCrumb's Appalachian mysteries, this is highly recommended."
--Jo Ann Vicarel, Library Journal
Learn more about The Drifter's Wheel and its author at Phillip DePoy's website.

Phillip DePoy is the author of a number of mysteries, including the Shamus Award finalist Easy. He has published short fiction, poetry, and criticism in Story, The Southern Poetry Review, Xanadu, and Yankee, among other magazines. As a folklorist, he has worked with Joseph Campbell and John Burrison. Depoy is currently the director of the theatre program at Clayton State University.

The Page 69 Test: The Drifter's Wheel.

--Marshal Zeringue