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SOUTHERN SINS: ERYK PRUITT'S BLOOD RED SUMMER

Blood Red Summer is the Eryk Pruitt's second book t o feature pocaster Jess Keeler. HIs earlier work was often Jim Thompson style shaggy dog noir tales of people traveling a dangerous road to nowhere. This and the series first book, Something Bad Wrong, allows him to apply his strengths to the thriller genre. Not only does it produce a more commercial book, but proves he has even more skills.


After her success in Something Bad Wrong, TV somes courting Jess. She travels with a production company to the town of Lake Caster Virginia for a sizzle reel. In 1984, a rash of sniper killings terrorized the town and an some believe the young black man put away for it was innocent. The local law steers them to a sexier unsolved crime that involved the murder of a couple of bootleggers around the same time. The producer, against Jess's wishes, goes with that case. However is seems both may be tied together by the involvement of a biker gangs. As we go back to that summer of 1984, we get the point of view of Hal Broadstreet, a reporter covering both crimes, and the first black deputy in the Lake Kaster, Ennis Worthy. As the story pieces together between Jess' investigation, along with he two men in the past, pieces of police corruption, race relations, and politics build a picture across time.


Pruitt has mainly been thought of as a writer of character, region, and tone. He takes dark characters, many comically so, to portray Southern life on the skids. The results are often both over the top and gritty. The Jess Keeler books allow him to place his characters and voice into a more accessible vessel. Broadstreet, a boozy newman who gambles equally with life and livelihood is a standout character I hope Eryk finds a way to use again. It also shows off his skill with plotting and suspense that dovetail into the book's themes as "old new south" converses with the current one.


Blood Red Summer proves Eryk Pruitt is making some strong steps in his writing career. He delivers a modern thriller with go this flourishes as portrays past and present in relationship to one another. As he finds more ways to show off his many skill, his books get smarter and smarter.

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