Paperback: Twilight, By William Gay

Faber, £7.99
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The Independent Culture

Necrophilia leads to blackmail, which leads to the hiring of a hitman, which leads to a psychopath hunting an adolescent boy in a forest, which leads to multiple murder, which leads to a manhunt...

This is an intensely cinematic slice of Southern Gothic. It has the remorseless concatenation of events of the Coen brothers' film Blood Simple, and the implacable pursuit of Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter. There is no sense that the author's hand will protect his favourite characters: anything can happen and everyone is vulnerable, which makes reading it an adrenalin-charged experience.

Gay writes with his foot pressed down on the gas, even if there are times when one feels he's straining too hard. He has an ear for the cadence of southern American speech to rival Flannery O'Connor's. And images from the novel remain with you: a wagon packed with murdered bodies; a dog with diamante pierced ears; an undertaker sipping cognac and listening to soft music by the fire, a young woman's corpse leaning on his shoulder.