The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Willard Russell prays over a prayer log for his cancer-ridden wife with his son, Arvin. A spider-eating preacher is convinced he can bring back the dead. A husband and wife pick up hitchhikers, photograph them, and kill them. How will all of their paths intersect?
Knockemstiff was one of my favorite books this year and I was anxious for Donald Ray Pollock to try his hand at a novel. Now I'm anxious for him to write a couple hundred more.
The Devil All the Time dips into the same well as Knockemstiff at first. I had to admit I wasn't sure about things in the early-goings, not until I saw where things are going. The stories don't appear related at all except for the backwoods Ohio setting. Not until Arvin and Leonora wound up in the same place.
The overlying theme of The Devil All The Time seems to be that you can't run forever, something Williard, Roy, Teagardin, and most of the other characters learn the hard way by the story's end. I loved trying to figure out where the various plot threads would knot and tangle together. Besides obviously reminding me of Knockemstiff, it also reminded me of No Country for Old Men at times.
By far my favorite pair of characters to follow was Carl and Sandy. Since I've been watching a lot of Dexter lately, I latched on to the duo pretty quickly. Lee Bodecker was a close second, since he was the closest thing to a common character appearing in all the various threads.
By the time the end rolled around, I wasn't sure who would live, right up until the last page. The Devil All the Time was a brutal thrill ride through the sad lives of a fistful of characters. Five stars, no complaints.
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