Picks and Pans Review: Go with Me

updated 01/28/2008 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/28/2008 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Castle Freeman Jr. |

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This nimble thriller is the literary equivalent of a fierce bantamweight fighter: Short but muscular and lightning quick, it packs a surprising punch. Set among the lumberjacks and lowlifes of backwoods Vermont, Go With Me tells the deceptively simple story of the pursuit of a sinister ex-cop named Blackway—"what we've got up here instead of organized crime," one character explains. Thanks largely to a Greek chorus of beer-guzzling layabouts, the tale becomes a contemplation of a dark, unforgiving world. Freeman has a flawless ear for dialogue and a sharp eye for quirky detail. It's hard to resist an author who can write a description like this: "The beard was black at the sides and gray down the middle and made the man look like he was in the act of eating a skunk headfirst." Superb.

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