MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: A SWOLLEN RED SUN

swollen red sun

MysteryPeople Pick of the Month:A Swollen Red Sun by Matthew McBride

Matthew McBride caught the attention of crime fiction readers and writers alike with his debut novel, Frank Sinatra In A Blender. It introduced a new and exciting voice with a wild, almost satirical hard boiled novel. With his follow up, A Swollen Red Sun, McBride tones down the satire, but is no less wild.

The action takes place in Gasconade, a meth lab of a county in eastern Missouri. Dale Banks, a decent sheriff’s deputy, has a moment of weakness when he takes $52,000 from the trailer of local dealer Jerry Dean Skaggs. Most of the cash was supposed to go to Jerry’s partners and a crooked lawman to keep up the operation of his boss, the drug kingpin preacher Reverend Butch Pogue. The theft sends these characters and the county into a violent spiral.

This book is relentless. With no chapter breaks, Mcbride jumps from character to character. He has honed his prose style to where every word has punch and velocity. While travelling down some of the territory of fellow Missourian Daniel Woodrell, he goes for a more terse, visceral feel. Less interested in contemplation, he wants you in the moment, no matter how dark or violent.

The book becomes a study of corruption in its personal, institutional, and spiritual forms. With Banks we see a man who must face the consequences of his moral slip. Reverend Pogue shows how justification perverts religion to the point where its spirituality is scorched. Overall, the novel has the feel of Dashielle Hammett’s Red Harvest, showing how a corrupt society eventually destroys itself.

A Swollen Red Sun is a huge leap for Matthew McBride. It expands on his promise, demonstrating more depth as it moves from the intimate to the big picture with the skill of those who have a dozen books behind them. It looks like we’ve only scratched the surface of his talent.

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Copies of  A Swollen Red Sun are available on our shelves at BookPeople and via bookpeople.com.

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2 thoughts on “MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: A SWOLLEN RED SUN

  1. […] I had been jonesing for some Matthew McBride and was happy to find this story on Plots With Guns. If the title alone isn’t enough, Mat gives us a buffet of dark humor, splatter punk violence, and a unique style and approach that make him one of the best. Those of you who read his first novel, Frank Sinatra In A Blender, will recognize a part of this story, but it still stands on its own. McBride is also the author of A Swollen Red Sun, our MysteryPeople Pick of the Month for July 2014. […]

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