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HIGH WHITE SUN
by J. Todd Scott
G.P. Putnam's Sons, March 2018
480 pages
$26.00
ISBN: 0399176357


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Young sheriff Chris Cherry and his crew of deputies must investigate the death of a river guide who worked in Big Bend National Park. Cherry is trying to escape the shadow of his predecessor, a dirty cop whom he shot in the previous book in the series, THE FAR EMPTY. Keeping everything legal and by the book meets serious obstruction by deputies who have agendas of their own.

It is baking hot in the Big Bend, named for the bend in the Rio Grande River that is the border between Mexico and Texas. It is a wild and empty space, almost lawless because of its size and barrenness. This is one of the places where those people Trump abhors find ways to become, literally, wetbacks as they swim the river border.

J. Todd Scott introduces us to the world of prison gangs, who control much of the illegal activity on either side of the border, where drugs, guns and money make murder an almost daily event. Enter John Wesley Earl, general of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, recently released from 20 years in prison, and his murderous family and hangers-on.

Scott lets us witness the brutality of Texas prison life and of the violent household Earl now resides in from several points of view. We witness the deep racial hatred Earl and his buddies carry with them. Earl’s sons have become involved with a man named Flowers who wants to start his Church of Purity in a town called (believe it or not) Killing, but needs the money that Earl is supposed to have.

Poor Sheriff Cherry is struggling to deal with this mess cautiously, since he has been warned by the FBI that they will be handling things. But everyone seems to have a personal agenda and things get very hairy. The plot is so complicated, with layers of bad guys and layers of law enforcement agencies that the outcome demands five different conclusions in five final chapters.

HIGH WHITE SUN is a long book at 480 pages but it manages to sustain the reader’s interest by shifting perspectives among many point of view characters. This technique allows us to have a rounded view by the time the fiery bloodbaths begin, and we mostly know who we are rooting for. The good guys are outmaneuvered, outnumbered, and outgunned but word has it that Scott is working on the third in his series so we have some hope that at least some of the good guys will survive. About the bad guys, we are not so sure.

§ Susan Hoover is a playwright, independent producer and retired college English teacher. She lives in Nova Scotia.

Reviewed by Susan Hoover, December 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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