Sunday, July 12, 2009

Suspense in the Wilderness

Castle Freeman Jr. has written a novel about the deep woods of Vermont called, “Go With Me”. But it isn’t the bucolic Vermont we usually envision. It is a darker more sinister New England. The protagonist, Lillian, is a young girl who has found herself in a remote town in Vermont living with her boyfriend. But suddenly her boyfriend has fled. The reason he has fled is that the town villain has threatened his life. And now the villain, named Blackway, is stalking Lillian. He has trashed her car, killed her cat, and is following her. But Lillian refuses to be intimidated by this thug. This may sound like a simple “who done it” but in the hands of Castle Freeman Jr. this is a gripping novel written with a wit and restraint that is very impressive.

Lillian needs help because the local sheriff tells her Blackway is beyond his jurisdiction. He tells her if she wants to find Blackway she needs to go to the old sawmill in town. There she finds the town’s elders (so to speak) who sit around everyday drinking beer and discoursing on the local state of affairs, like a Greek Chorus. Whizzer, the leader of this strange group and the owner of the old sawmill, listens to Lillian’s story and sets her up with Nate the Great, a very strong young man who some think is not all there, and Lester, an aging misfit who is very clever. These are two of the most unlikely suspects in the world but Lillian is desperate and they are willing to “go with her”. The three set off for the deep woods to find Blackway. What follows is a gripping tale of suspense peppered with wit and the clever, skillful stealth of these three unlikely allies.

Castle Freeman Jr. has written an intriguing story about the semi wilderness where he lives. “Go With Me” is a small book (160 pages) written with clear, direct prose. The dialog is pitch perfect. The characters are strong and totally real. The story builds with gripping suspense and the author delivers a great climax. “Go With Me” is one of those great finds in literature, a concise, compelling story that is very well written.

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