Trudi's Reviews > Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories

Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill
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This book ::flails helplessly:: How do I begin to review these raw and ruthless stories and do them justice? I probably can't ladies and gents, but I want to try goddammit. Frank Bill's collection of crazies and crimes in southern Indiana deserves that much at least.

This is prose that sings -- not with the sweetness and harmony of a Mama Cass, but rather a whiskey-soaked growl and feverish screech of a Janis Joplin. It's jagged, fragmented, and toothsome; at any point ready and able to tear a chunk out of the reader and leave him or her panting and bleeding like the sordid cast of cutthroat characters that populate the pages of these 17 inter-connected stories.

The stories piece together a harsh portrait of poor, scrabbling, backwoods people -- where victims become victimizers, and the brutalized do their fair share of brutalizing in return. As Frank Bill weaves together his tales of madness and mayhem, he is not interested in telling mere exploitative snapshots of gratuitous violence; his carefully crafted stories resonate with gritty themes of PTSD, poverty, domestic violence, addiction, greed and corruption. Each story flashes bright and fierce, a powerhouse on its own, but when melded with its brethren, the sum definitely becomes more awesome than the parts.

Frank Bill is writing Southern Noir and making it his bitch. This is Quentin Tarantino meets Cormac McCarthy. For certain Frank Bill convinces his readers that his Indiana landscape is also no country for old men. How is this for a descriptive simile: Jagged marrow lined his gums like he'd tried to huff a stick of dynamite. But when he stuttered into Medford's ear he sounded like a drunk who had Frenched a running chainsaw.

This isn't a collection to love per se; it certainly won't leave you with the warm and fuzzies. It will shake you up and smack you around a bit though, and you definitely won't forget it easily. It also made me green with envy over how easy Frank Bill makes it all seem. What he accomplishes isn't easy; if it were we'd see the likes of this kind of writing more often.
Iris kept driving. Turned onto the county road, glanced over the field and acres of cedar, saw the smoke rising above the land. He reached over and rubbed Spade between his black ears, not knowing where he was headed, but knowing he wouldn't stop until he was several states shy of the crimes in southern Indiana.
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Reading Progress

12/14/2011 page 42
15.0% "This book. So much outrageous awesomeness. Scary hillbillies in a backwoods noir world. If Tarantino and Cormac McCarthy had a lovechild it would be Frank Bill!"

Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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Jacob Great review! It's a tricky book to talk about without scaring people away, isn't it?

Trudi Thanks Jacob, and you are so right. It's tough to find that balance between giving fair warning, but also wanting to push the book enthusiastically (knowing full well it ain't gonna be everyone's cuppa tea).

Jacob Exactly. Just those first three stories...

message 4: by Noran (new)

Noran Miss Pumkin I live in Northern Indiana-we just have gangs, and a city that usually has the highest homicide rate in the nation.

Trudi Noran wrote: "I live in Northern Indiana-we just have gangs, and a city that usually has the highest homicide rate in the nation."

I'm in Canada Noran, and I have to say this snapshot of southern Indiana scared the piss out of me!

Jacob I bought this book in Kentucky on the way home from a wedding, and I'm glad I didn't read it before driving up through Indiana.

Trudi Ha! I bet.

message 8: by Noran (new)

Noran Miss Pumkin so are the stories fiction or real? I could link you to some real scary ones from the past 10 years-heck Indy has scary stuff happening there monthly. Southern Indiana is very pretty to visit for sure, but living there is another thing completely.

Jacob Fiction, I think (I hope!), but possibly based on real life. Not sure. It's been a few months since I read the book, so I can't remember. Will have to look through it again to double-check, and to refresh my memory on the stories so I can out-do Trudi with a review...

message 10: by Noran (new)

Noran Miss Pumkin Andrew Conley, Indiana teen who allegedly murdered brother, inspired by television show 'Dexter'
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

He blamed it on "Dexter."

A southern Indiana teen, who allegedly strangled his 10-year-old brother to death, said he was inspired by the television serial killer character Dexter.

Andrew Conley pleaded guilty on Monday to killing his younger sibling, Conner, last November.

Police said after the gruesome murder, Conley -- 17 years old at the time -- packed his brother's body into the trunk of his car and drove to his girlfriend's house to watch a movie.

The teen told police that he identified with Dexter, played by Michael C. Hall, in the Showtime television series about a police blood-spatter analyst who is also a serial killer.

message 11: by Noran (new)

Noran Miss Pumkin On a freezing January in 1992, five teenage girls crowded into a car. By the end of the night, only four of them were alive. The fifth had been tortured and mutilated nearly beyond recognition. Her name was Shanda Sharer; her age - twelve. When the people of Madison, Indiana heard that a brutal murder had been committed in their midst, they were stunned. Then the story became even more bizarre. The four accused murderers were all girls under the age of eighteen: Melinda Loveless, Laurie Tackett, Hope Rippey, and Toni Lawrence. Here, for the first time, veteran true crime journalist Aphrodite Jones reveals the shocking truth behind the most savage crime in Indiana history - a tragic story of twisted love and insane jealousy, lesbianism, brutal child abuse, and sadistic ritual killing in small-town America...and of the young innocent who paid the ultimate price.

message 12: by Noran (last edited Dec 17, 2011 09:55PM) (new)

Noran Miss Pumkin Gee-I cannot believe it has been almost 20 years, since that poor girl was murdered--seems still so recent in my memory.

Trudi Jacob wrote: "so I can out-do Trudi with a review..."

The gauntlet has been thrown. Bring it ;)

This is a fiction collection, but methinks there's a lot of truth behind it. Without preaching, Frank Bill does a great job zeroing in on the devastation and havoc both meth and war have wreaked on southern Indiana.

Jacob Noran wrote: "Andrew Conley, Indiana teen who allegedly murdered brother, inspired by television show 'Dexter'
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

He blamed it on "Dexter.""

Shit. That's insane. The last big news story to come out of my hometown was the time the schools almost turned our kids (gasp!) gay.

Trudi OMG Noran! The truth is always crazier, right?

Jacob That picture would also work for my news story, you know. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

message 17: by Noran (new)

Noran Miss Pumkin OMG-wacky week makes the news. Now some teacher had kids sing Deck the Halls, without the apparel being "gay"!?!

ADORE the screaming woman image-thanks for the effort!

Trudi Jacob wrote: "was the time the schools almost turned our kids (gasp!) gay. ..."

At least they haven't put the kibosh on rainbows yet Jacob! You yanks don't have a monopoly on crazy in the water... us Canucks go a little mad sometimes too.

message 19: by Noran (new)

Noran Miss Pumkin Trudi you win the crazy water for sure!

message 20: by Noran (new)

Noran Miss Pumkin We have had some truly creepie child abuse cases In my county the pass year. All resulting in demise. I pray for the coroner staff every time they have to deal with one of this nightmare cases.

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