Sunday, March 10, 2013


by John Brandon

I really enjoyed John Brandon's Citrus County when I read it a couple of years back, so I thought I should check out his first novel, Arkansas.

This novel is a story about three men - Kyle, Swin, and Frog.  Frog is a drug lord who has created a network in which to hide himself, dispatching packages with instructions for the various people in his network to follow.  His story, from his earliest days to a time commensurate with the action of the novel, is interspersed throughout the book, and strangely told in second person.

Kyle is a recluse, with a good head for crime, if nothing else.  Swin is a more interesting character, a health freak whose very generous assessment of his own intelligence is also the reason why he's had trouble finding success in the world.

These two guys find their way into Frog's operation, and are eventually assigned to work as Park Rangers in a National Park overseen by a man named Bright, who is one of Frog's most valued men.  After Bright is killed in a strange incident, Swin and Kyle try to go it alone, maintaining the park and their side business much as was done under Bright, but it's not possible for them to manage this for long.

I don't read a lot of crime novels, and so I appreciated how Brandon eschewed many of the usual tropes of that genre, instead just telling a good story about some people in some strange and compromising situations.  His prose goes down easy, and this is an enjoyable read.

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