As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Two Roads, 12 March 2015. ISBN:
If Thomas Hardy had been American and a hundred years younger, he might
well have written Soil.
But he was neither of those
things, so it was left to debut author Jamie Kornegay to produce this all too
lifelike story of a man unravelling under the weight of nature’s vagaries and
his own obsession. A body does appear very early and there are shootings later,
but it’s not really a crime novel – unless the crime is a thoughtless, selfish
form of low-rent police corruption which contributes to the way all occasions
do conspire against the protagonist, if you’ll excuse the Shakespeare-ism.
It’s hard to sum up the
storyline in a few sentences, but I’ll try. Soil scientist Jamie Mize has taken
his wife and small son to live in the country with the aim of experimenting
with a new way of farming. His obsession with his experiment drives his wife
away, and a catastrophic flood destroys just about everything he has created.
Small wonder, then, that he begins to lose it; and when a decaying body floats
on to his property, he opts to go to elaborate lengths to destroy all trace of
it, lest he is blamed for its demise.
Meanwhile, a few miles away
in the city, a swaggering, self-centred deputy sheriff has his eye on Sandy,
Jamie’s estranged wife, and sets about intimidating Jamie in order to free her
up for his advances.
Suffice to say it doesn’t end
well. Jamie’s tenuous hold on reason follows his life as it spirals out of
control; Sandy has her own problems; Shoals, the deputy, is also doomed to be
the author of his own downfall.
If the book had been sold to
me as literary fiction, I would have accepted it as such and possibly
appreciated it more fully from the outset. Once I stopped looking for the
clever plotting a good crime novel surely entitles us to expect, and began to
appreciate the sensuous evocation of the Mississippi delta and the quirks and
twists of the oddball characters and their lives, I began to see it for what it
is: quality writing of a high order and a perceptive study of how human nature
can buckle under stress.
Read it; enjoy it; appreciate
it, as I did, especially if you’re a fan of Thomas Hardy. But don’t expect
anything resembling classic crime.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Jamie Kornegayis an
independent bookseller in Greenwood Mississippi, where he lives with his wife
and three children. He started the Turnrow Book Co in 2006. Prior to that he
was events coordinator and radio show producer for the renowned Square Books in
Oxford Miss. Soil is his
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.