The Bayou Trilogy


Reviews of The Bayou Trilogy (1 review)

5 - Excellent Review

Reviewer:

First off, you can't go wrong tripling your pleasure. All three Rene Shade novels in one place--I like it! On to the novels themselves: all three set in Woodrell's imaginary Cajun city of St. Bruno, somewhere on the Mississippi between St. Louis and New Orleans (it's supposed to be in Missouri, but it's not exactly obvious). The star of the show, if you can call him that, is Rene Shade, former boxer, child of the mean streets of the "Frogtown" of the city, and now detective on a police force that works only as hard as it really wants to. It's the kind of police force that isn't above solving a case before gathering the evidence, if you know what I mean. Rene is one of three brothers, somewhere in the middle of Tip, rough-and-ready bar-owner, and Francois, the slick young assistant D.A. with his eye on politics. Also present are assorted miscreants. First installment: "Under The Bright Lights" has a rather boring plot involving murder, city corruption and construction contracts, but characters like the big-talking redneck would-be badass Jewel Cobb keep it moving along. Next up: "Muscle For The Wing," in which a gang of ex-prisoners tries to horn in on the city's crime industry, aided and abetted by the naive but charming Wanda. They set about robbing high-stakes poker games at which local politicos and bigwigs are known to take a hand. And so, Rene Shade is called into execute the predetermined outcome of the case. And finally, in "The Ones You Do," the Shade brothers' long-lost daddy, a ramblin', gamblin' man in his twilight years, comes to town, on the run, pursued by hillbilly villain Lunch Pumphrey. This one turns out to be as much a family drama as a crime thriller, as the Shades are confronted with their varying feelings for their father. Also, there's some hilarious, and truly bizarre, side-action with Pumphrey. In any case, Woodrell's style is wry and witty and far from ordinary, as his characters have a way of putting even (especially) sad truths that makes you smile. His people are wonderfully complex, and his fictional city is brought to vivid life. Real nice to have these long-out-of-print early novels all together.