It only feels natural to follow a juggernaut like Fred Venturini‘s “A Pound of Flesh” with something to keep the reader ravenous. The opening story is quite good, to be true. However, the impact it has could leave the reader dazed, even sluggish, like a beaten boxer. So, after the powerful left jab, you follow with a strong right hook (Because that’s all I sort of know about boxing. Come back to me if you want professional wrestling jargon. I’m your man!). Enter Craig Clevenger‘s “The Confession of Adelai Shade.”
Clevenger transports the reader to the dusty roads of a time gone by; a time of outlaws and outlaws without badges. Religion is making a strong comeback in Shade’s town, thanks to Reverend Hoyle. Adelai Shade is a career criminal trying to duck the law while wooing the wife of a preacher. World’s collide in an explosion fueled by alcohol and sex. Do I really need to continue?
Craig, or Mister Clevenger if you’re nasty, takes on the voice of a Southern Drawl, leaving behind the noiry minimalist darkness of his novels, The Contortionist’s Handbook and Dermaphoria. The new voice suits him with the pleats in all the right places. He’s a master of storytelling and “The Confession of Adelai Shade” proves that continues to be true. It also serves as a fantastic appetizer while we wait for his next novel.