Gischler, Victor. The Deputy.

Madison, WI: Tyrus Books, 2010.

There’s been a whole clutch recently of new young authors of gritty, noir thrillers and Gischler is one of the best. This is his fifth novel of that type (he’s done a couple of zombie/vampire yarns, too, which simply aren’t my thing) and it’s great fun — in a rather bloody sort of way.

Toby Sawyer escaped from Coyote Crossing, out in western Oklahoma, with his guitar and a determination to make it in the world, but then he went back to bury his mother and inherited her double-wide. Then he found himself married and a father. And now he’s working as a part-time deputy to Chief Krueger, stuck in the ass-end of nowhere where even cell phones don’t work and where he does most of his shopping at the Texaco’s convenience store.

Then Luke Jordan gets himself shot up in his pickup on Main Street and Toby is told to watch the body while the Chief goes and talks to people. Unfortunately, he goes off for a quickie with a young girl he knows and when he returns to the scene the body’s gone. Now he wishes all this would just go away, but while searching frantically for the wandered corpse, he discovers a tractor trailer full of Mexican illegals. And ends up killing another deputy in self-defense. Luke’s gang of brothers (all criminals) aren’t going to be happy , either.

And that’s just the beginning of Toby’s long night. He’s not stupid, really, just a little slow on the uptake. But he wants to do this lawman thing right, and he want to make it onto the police force full-time, and he wants to protect his infant son. And if that means shooting a few people who are trying to shoot him, well, so be it.

The action in this one begins on the first page and never lets up. It’s a fast read and a highly entertaining one, filled with gallows humor. And all through the story, two words kept going through my mind: “Coen Brothers.”

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