Gone South by Robert McCammon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Vietnam vet Dan Lambert gets a notice in the mail that his truck is being repossessed, he heads down to the bank. The bank manager is an arrogant asshole and before Dan knows it, things have gone south in a big way. Where will Dan run when the police are after him and the bank president puts a $15,000 bounty on his head?
After reading Boy's Life, I kept my eye out for more McCammon on the cheap. Gone South, Bookgorilla email, yadda, yadda, yadda.
For some reason, this book languished on my kindle until someone let me know there were both an Elvis impersonator and a parasitic twin in this book. After that, I had only to fit it into my schedule.
Dan Lambert is a semi-employed carpenter at the beginning of the book, a divorced Vietnam vet with Leukemia that never left the war behind. When he loses his truck, he unwittingly unleashes a shitstorm and soon finds himself on the run. On his trail are Flint Murtaugh, gambler/bounty hunter, and Pelvis Eisley, a would-be bounty hunter he's saddled with. Flint has a conjoined twin he calls Clint and Pevlis is an Elvis impersonator if that wasn't clear by his name.
Gone South is more of a straight up crime book than anything else. There are no supernatural elements. There's a little more gore than most crime books, though. It's more in the Elmore Leonard/Joe Lansdale vein of crime books than anything McCammon had done prior. Also like Elmore Leonard, you wind up liking the bad guys quite a bit. The dialogue is great and sometimes hilarious. McCammon also shows off his writing chops quite a bit. I highlighted quite a few memorable lines while reading.
In the introduction, which I'm glad I read after the fact, McCammon describes Gone South as a journey from hell back to the garden of Eden, which I can see now that I've finished. Dan, Arden, Murtaugh, and Eisely are all pretty directionless at the beginning. They all grow as characters through the story, going through the meatgrinder, and coming out changed on the other side. It doesn't hurt that there are much badder bad guys than Murtaugh along the way.
What else can I say? Gone South is a really gripping, entertaining read. I don't have anything bad to say about it. While I've read and enjoyed four or five Robert McCammon books before this, part of me always thought of him as a Stephen King ripoff and I didn't understand why some people held him in such high regard. I get it now. Four out of five stars.
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