MysteryPeople Review: A THOUSAND FALLING CROWS by Larry Sweazy


  • Review by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

The outlaw era of the 1930s conjures up a certain rustic romance. It’s meeting of wild west and Tommy-gun times; local law and Texas rangers hot on the heels of Baby-Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd. Larry D. Sweazy plays to that legendary period while getting to its dark underbelly with A Thousand Falling Crows.

He gives us a stalwart and struggling hero with aging Texas Ranger Sonny Burton. Sweazy immediately throws us into the action as Sonny attempts to apprehend bank-robbing gangsters Bonnie and Clyde. Unfortunately the confrontation take him out of action, losing him the use of his arm. Feeling useless, he is asked by Aldo, a worker at the hospital he recuperated at, to locate Aldo’s missing daughter, Carmen, who he fears has fallen in with some robbers with their own Dillinger dreams. The search ties in with an even darker criminal mind, leaving women’s dead bodies in rural fields across the Southwest.

Sweazy completely drops us into the period. You can tell he has done his research, since he doesn’t rub it in your face all the time. Like everything in the book, it is expressed through character. He gives us a sense of time and place through Sonny’s eyes. When we meet up with the legendary and controversial Ranger Frank Hamer, much is expressed by Sonny’s envy of the gun Frank carries.

Sweazy also knows how to use character to push plot. Moving between the point of views of Sonny, the criminals, and Carmen, he creates tension and pace. Mood is even created by another set of characters, a large flock of crows waiting for a killer to provide their next meal of the dead.

A Thousand Falling Crows puts you on an dirt road with fast fords and flying bullets, weaving in a dark and gritty undercurrent. This is Texas period crime fiction at its finest. I hope to see more of Sonny Burton.

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