Still Life with Crows
Only at first glance “Still life...” is a thriller, although it shows all the obvious ingredients: brutal murders, a local sheriff that has no clue, his mysterious counterpart, the ingenious FBI agent Pendergast and the life-threatening hunt for the serial killer in a literally breathtaking setting.
But underneath it all we read the much more gripping story of decaying small town America, here Medicine Creek, a place in rural Kansas, surrounded by miles and miles of corn fields. Most of the land is owned by a big agricultural multi, which plans to experiment with genetically modified crop here, at the end of the world. The few remaining farmers try to fight against it, without any chance. The young people leave the place as soon as they can start college. The locals can only find work at Gro-Bain, the turkey factory, which the authors describe in gory detail.
We meet Corrie Swanson, a “Goth” teenager and juvenile delinquent, who lives with her horrible, constantly drunken mother in a trailer park. We get to know Sheriff Hazen who does not know how to handle the weird killings, but does not want to work together with Pendergast, who - supposedly on holiday - steps off the bus like the lonely dark avenger and takes Corrie on as his assistant so that she can tell him everything about Medicine Creek.
Pendergast investigates the so called Ghost Warrior Massacre in the 1850ies, when Cheyennes butchered 49 men and mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen again, and discovers a connection with the actual killings.
While a terrible sandstorm, then tornado is building up, the action also reaches its rather lengthy climax and the not really surprising end.
Preston grew up in Minnesota and later explored the Midwest on horseback on the lookout for historical sights and traces of American History. And with this godforsaken Medicine Creek he may mourn the doom of rural America whereas Child might have supplied the geographical details.
All in all a fascinating read.