Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pg. 69: "Lost Echoes"

Last Monday's feature at the Page 69 Test was Joe R. Lansdale's Lost Echoes.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since a mysterious childhood illness, Harry Wilkes has experienced horrific visions. Gruesome scenes emerge to replay themselves before his eyes. Triggered by simple sounds, these visions occur anywhere a tragic event has happened. Now in college, Harry feels haunted and turns to alcohol to dull his visionary senses. One night, he sees a fellow drunk easily best three muggers. In this man, Harry finds not only a friend that will help him kick the booze, but also a sensei who will teach him to master his unusual gift. Soon Harry’s childhood crush, Kayla, comes and asks for help solving her father’s murder. Unsure of how it will affect him, Harry finds the strength to confront the dark secrets of the past, only to unveil the horrors of the present.
Among the advance praise for the novel:
In this superior East Texas crime thriller from Stoker-winner Lansdale (Sunset and Sawdust), Harry Wilkes discovers after a severe childhood ear infection that he has a peculiar "hindsight." Harry can not only see dead people but see and hear violent events as they occurred in the recent or distant past. "It's like I hear and see ghosts in sounds," he tells his father. By the time he's a college student, Harry's psychic abilities have driven him to booze. After meeting alcoholic Tad Peters, a retired martial arts expert, Harry becomes Tad's surrogate son and student. The two forge a pact to sober up together. Their resolve is tested when Harry agrees to help Kayla Jones, an old childhood crush now a cop, solve her father's murder, which her boss, the local police chief, has dismissed as a suicide. Lansdale's down-home prose erupts with explosive twists and razor sharp insights into how "echoes from the original sounds" can never be silenced until action is taken to defeat the fear that created them.
Publishers Weekly, starred review

The prolific Lansdale returns, after sojourns in pulp, sf, and horror, to work his peculiar mojo on the supernatural crime thriller. Harry Wilkes has inherited his family’s curse of experiencing "dark sounds," full-sensory recordings of traumatic events that can be unleashed by, for example, the banging of a toilet lid upon which a guy once blew his brains out. Booze helps hold the "ghosts in the noise" at bay, but his life as a drunken recluse isn’t going well. He gets things under control with the help of an eccentric sensei named Tad, but when a boyhood girlfriend named Kayla comes home to find her father’s killer, Harold grits his teeth and journeys into the dark once more. Lansdale’s prose finds the perfect pitch between the laid-back cadences of front-porch storytelling and the thriller’s demand for growing urgency. He is a bit unreconstructed when it comes to gender relations — or at least the vocabulary to describe them — but he’s got both the charisma and the balls to pull it off. Funny and scary, with a barn-burner ending.

Read an excerpt from Lost Echoes and check out Joe R. Lansdale's official website.

Page 69: Lost Echoes.

--Marshal Zeringue