Muscle for the Wing by Daniel Woodrell
It’s not what you tell as how you tell it, and goddamn does Daniel Woodrell tell it good. The town of St. Bruno has it’s own language, like reading foreign slang in Junot Diaz. The second of the Bayou Trilogy tells us the tale of robbing stealing from the gangsters, a story that’s been done tons of times. And yet Woodrell is able to make it seethe with chaw spit and moonshine.
A trio of robbers who are part of a prison gang called The Wing are hitting poker games all over St. Bruno, much to the consternation of Mr. B, the head honcho in town. So Mr. B calls in his chips, and the captain assigns Shade to work with Shuggie Zeck, his childhood pal now turned shakedown boss. Both are disgusted with each other and what they’ve become, but they work together to try to find out who’s knocking over the games. And killing people. Including a cop who was working security for the game.
The story steeps itself in double crosses and bloodshed, wife beatings and infidelity. The visceral murders are just simply gruesome, from someone getting double barrels sawed off in the face to the point his head looks like a “frayed mop” to a man getting the contents of a scalding deep fryer emptied onto his stomach and hands. This one was the shortest and easily accessible and I really enjoyed it. The bookamajigger has demanded I run through my Woodrell backstock, so I’m going to have a nice chaser to all this Goodkind.