David Lindsey is one of my favorite crime novelists. His A Cold Mind (1983), almost his first novel, represented a remarkable coming-of-age for the serial-killer genre. Mercy (1990) made him famous. But for me it’s his 1992 novel Body of Truth that’s most imprinted itself on my mind: although it fits the bill as a murder mystery, it’s the novel’s lifting off the lid of the Reagan-backed dirty war in Guatemala that makes it without a doubt the most harrowing crime novel I have ever read. It achieved this effect on me not through torrents of grue, or whatever, but through its slowly built-up recreation of the atmosphere of (wholly justified) paranoia that must have existed in Guatemala and other countries in Central and South America at the time, where a word out of place — or simply the whim of some moronic bully — could have you “disappeared” overnight, possibly a plaything for the torturers for the hours before the mercy of death. And maybe not just you: maybe your whole family.
I read Body of Truth within a few years after its publication, about a quarter of a century ago, and, although most plot details have obviously drifted out of memory, I still find that, every time I think about the book, I re-enter that state of paranoia.
Lindsey’s novels tend to be strong meat (though that’s not a universal rule), and so I generally space them out a bit. I realized the other day that really quite a while had passed since last I’d read one and that I’d accumulated three on the TBR shelves. So I picked off the fattest of them, which was An Absence of Light, and settled in.
Houston, Texas, and an investigator for the Houston PD’s Criminal Intelligence Division (CID) is found in his car with a bullet through his head. The initial verdict is Continue reading