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Where Trouble Sleeps

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  588 ratings  ·  53 reviews
In 1950, the small town of Listre, North Carolina, had a population of 511 people. Six-year-old Stephen Toomey had to decide for himself who was going to heaven and who was going to hell. In "Where Trouble Sleeps", Edgerton draws on his own childhood to craft a perfect gem of a novel, one that will surprise and delight his fans, old and new. ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 20th 1998 by Ballantine Books (first published 1997)
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Average rating 3.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  588 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Sep 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Meh. This story seemed lost and rushed. The dog was cool and the time period made for some interesting descriptions but it felt like a blind date that you knew you had to get through but couldn’t wait to finish.
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really wanted to finish the books I was already reading before starting something new, but I couldn't resist a book that starts with "Alease Toomey sat at her dresser, putting on lipstick, getting ready to take her son to see the electric chair for the first time."! ...more
Patrick Barry
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In this story, the devil comes to Listre North Carolina in the guise of Jack Umstead. The story is seen through the eyes of six year old Stephen, who goes through town trying to figure out which residents in town will go to hell. Umstead goes through town plying his mischief. The story comes to a head when Umstead meets the church going Blaine sisters because he does not understand where trouble sleeps. Stephen witnesses as rootless amorality encounters deep rooted moral flexibility. It is more ...more
May 18, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up two years ago and read it during lunch breaks. It was not compelling, nor a page turner, but it was a pleasant place to go for a little break. Then, one day, I got busy and stopped. I didn't feel a great loss.
Reading this is very much just like sitting on a bench in a small town and watching the people live their ordinary lives around you. Which I think was what was intended and is pleasant in that aim.
Many people did not enjoy or continue this book, and I agree, there is n
Janice Torrance
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Overall, this was a pretty good book. It reminded me of the writing of Flannery O'Conner with self-righteous hypocrites. The title refers to the dog named Trouble and the people of this small town would predict the weather based on where Trouble would have his nap. At times, I felt like characters were just thrown in and had nothing to do with the main story. I wasn't enamored with the author's writing style but it was a quick read. ...more
Jan 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Small-town North Carolina meets a bad apple who's out to seduce the town's women and rob everyone else, even the Baptist church. Does Listre stand a chance? Clyde Edgerton's hamlet is drawn with love and humor. In Listre, everyone knows everyone else's bidness, from the shotgun-toting old maid to the preacher who sins in his heart to the dog that forecasts the weather. Without giving anything away, I'll just note that small town doesn't mean simple-minded. The characters in Where Trouble Sleeps ...more
Mar 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Pretty good novel.

From back cover:

"Here, evil comes to sleepy Listre, N.C., circa 1950, in the form of a stranger with a pencil-thin mustache and a trunkful of dirty movies. Listre is the kind of rustic crossroads where the most exciting event in years was a collision between a mule and a pickup truck, where boys slip over to the Gulf station for a Nehi and a peek at the pinup calendar, and where everybody knows everybody else's secrets. It's the kind of place, in other words, where it seems lik
Dan Baum
Jul 20, 2019 rated it liked it
As a fan of Clyde Edgerton, I look for his work in used bookstores (otherwise hard to find) and came across this one in Charleston, SC. Although noted as a NY Times bestseller and full of his quirky characters and sense of humor, this one wasn’t on par with Raney, Walking Across Egypt and Killer Diller. Not my fav but still fun.
Juliette Kuhn
Aug 09, 2009 rated it did not like it
Weird. Don't know what else to say. It had a North Carolina connection but just strange. ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More like a slice of life with a bang ending.
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
This is for people who have read it **Spoilers!**

I belly-laughed twice near the beginning so of course I was hooked. Nothing I like better.

What I love about this is how FAMILIAR everything is. I don't live in the Carolina area, but I'm a Southerner, and just the WAY Edgerton's characters SAY things is just like I would say them.

Best thing ever: the reference to Flannery O'Connor's The Misfit. Edgerton wanted to write a story where the grandma gets the criminal. Yeah!

I love people who can write c
Cindy Bonner
Nov 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Typical Edgerton. Funny, peculiar, realistic and ominous. You know you're building towards something, but with Edgerton, you have to go with the sideshow, see the world through his characters. I grew up with people like these. I almost cried in the chapter titled, "Just As I Am," because I have been right there in that situation before. It's quick read, and an easy read. Nothing that will keep up up at night but fun. ...more
David Gramley
Mar 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book is set in the 1950’s, so it’s before my time. And it’s in a very small town. I didn’t fully catch a lot of the book’s subtle characteristics, but at least it’s in the south, and for that reason I enjoyed quite a bit. I’ve read several Clyde Edgerton books, and Listre is familiar to me. All told, a short and fun book, with a surprising ending which could have gone several different ways.
Apr 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
I did not think this book would ever end! I stuck with it only because I had read and enjoyed Raney, Walking Across Egypt, and Killer Diller by Clyde Edgerton. I wanted Where Trouble Sleeps to be humorous and engaging, but the plot was all over the place and hard to follow. I should have given up reading this book after the first chapter.
Feb 16, 2021 rated it did not like it
This book's depiction of characters, especially clueless women, living in a tiny Southern town in 1950 made me cringe. To add insult to injury, it was published in 1997 to rave reviews. Much of the book is written from the perspective of a six-year-old asthmatic boy who drinks from a bottle and gets a job shooting the heads off chickens for a penny a head. Edgerton is no Welty, trust me. ...more
Ann Riley
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: southern-fiction
Never has it taken me so long to read such a short book. I just haven't been able to focus lately. It was somewhat of an interesting read, but didn't hold my attention. Reminded me of Erskine Caldwell's writing. ...more
Jan 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2010
A stranger comes to Listre, looking to see what he can shake out for his own profit. In the meantime, the people in the little town are living their lives. Mainly the story is told from the perspective of a six year old boy who spends a lot of time observing his world.

The best thing about this book was the interview put in as an extra where the author "interviews" his slick, trouble-making character, Jack Umstead. Otherwise, the book was generally easy to read, had enough dialect to feel genuine
J.R. McLemore
This story was okay. I enjoyed that it was set in the late 40s and that it was a close rural community where a drifting criminal came to prey. However, what I didn't like about it was the amount of religion. I get that these people are religious, yet as a reader, I don't need to peruse sermons and prayers and constant reverence to a deity on every other page. There was so much that I felt it got in the way of the story and found myself rolling my eyes. At times, the characters were so pious that ...more
Nov 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
I love Clyde Edgerton but this book lacked the humor of RANEY or WALKING ACROSS EGYPT. It was a disappointment after reading the reviews saying it was his best book, etc.

I would read on of the above mentioned books before this or THE FLOATPLANE NOTEBOOKS. This is a novel to read when you've read the rest of his work.
Sep 26, 2008 rated it did not like it
This was a quirky book about a small southern N.C. town. They have a strange visitor (Jack Umstead) who has come to scope out the place and maybe steal something. The author introduces several people who live in the town, however, he doesn’t really develop them. They just play the parts of town folk. The stranger tries to fit in and even gets friendly with some of the people in town before he does his evil deed. The book is suppose to be funny and it is in some parts. I just didn’t think it was ...more
Aug 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
This is the first Edgerton I've read, and I was a bit disappointed. The story was ok. The writing was ok. The characters were ok. And that's about it--ok.

I kept feeling that Edgerton wasn't all that enthused about it himself, that it was something he just churned out for some particular reason. Or perhaps this is his style? Anyway, I do believe that in the hands of another writer--someone like fanny flagg it would have been much, much better.
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure what to say about this book. I simply loved Edgerton's "Walking Across Egypt," and I was hoping to be similarly entertained. I was not. This time, Listre, North Carolina, seemed peopled with only weirdos, not one of whom I could relate to or completely understand. The con-man drifter who stirs things up was believable, but the rest of the characters were not. I read the whole book hoping that at some point I'd grow to love it, but I'm not sure I even liked it all that much. A disapp ...more
Aug 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Really funny- It starts off in a really small town in the 50s on a day when a housewife brings her 6-year-old son and his friend to the local prison to see the electric chair. She does this in the hope that it will scare the both of them from committing any sins. Meanwhile, a seedy character is on his way to this small town, where everyone knows each other, driving a stolen car. Find out what happens.....

Bethie Eaton
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book wasn't hitting on much for me. I don't think the title has much of anything to do with the book. "Trouble is the name of a bulldog who can predict if it will rain or not. He's mentioned 3 times in the book.

The town of Listre is located in the deep south where everyone knows everyone else's business and life centers around the church.

The story centers around a few days in the life of 7yr old boy and stranger happens into town. The stranger is anything but an honest person.
Jan Polep
Love the title. Mid-century small town in North in the slow lane...until loaded shotguns, good God-fearing residents and a bad guy passing through town collide. It made sense until the end when it ramped up so high that it became kind of unbelievable for me. Wish I had seen the street map before finishing the book. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill is a publisher with a strong back list. Check it out.
Nov 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Set in the fictional town of Listre, North Carolina, in 1950, the town has 511 people and the newest improvement is a blinking light at the main intersection. A stranger comes to town and beguiles some of the townspeople before he is found out. This is a darker and more realistic tale than Edgerton's other novels. ...more
Aug 04, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
I picked this book up awhile ago at a yardsale simply because it was a Ballentine, and I always seem to enjoy their "Reader's Circle" books. Unfortunately, this is the first one that I haven't liked AT ALL. The story was disjointed and just plain weird. ...more
Oct 12, 2008 rated it liked it
How can I resist a book with schematic plans reflecting changes over time to the downtown intersection bracketing the story? =) Edgerton writes well about the internal workings of his character and their interactions with their place.
Sarah Key
Jun 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
The setting drove the story and kept me entertained. The characters and plot did not. It was a slow moving book, but it had some great scenes. I can't say that I particularly recommend Where Trouble Sleeps, but I look forward to reading more of Edgerton's work. ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
(Notes written in 1997) This book is about a small southern community in 1950 and what happens when a dishonest outsider comes to town. An honest approach to small-town people and their flaws without completely sterotyping them, but I feel that it lacks the humor and appeal of Edgerton's Raney. ...more
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Clyde Edgerton is widely considered one of the premier novelists working in the Southern tradition today, often compared with such masters as Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor.

Although most of his books deal with adult concerns--marriage, aging, birth and death--Edgerton's work is most profoundly about family. In books such as Raney, Walking Across Egypt, The Floatplane Notebooks, and Killer Dill

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