Paperbacks: The Housekeeper, by Melanie Wallace

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The Independent Culture

New Englander Melanie Wallace writes with quiet gravitas about some of life's more extreme situations. Known in the US for Blue Horse Dreaming, a Western-style novel about an isolated civil war garrison, here she tells a contemporary story of backwoods America. Jamie, a teenager knocked sideways by the death of her mother, has taken to the road with her dog. We know nastiness is afoot when, wandering through a snowbound town, she finds a boy lashed to a tree. Released, he sets out on a lethal spree. Like Annie Proulx, Wallace's weather-proof prose conjures up a world of hard-bitten hillbillies and lonesome misfits.