A Living Grave by Robert E. Dunn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Review of THE LIVING GRAVE by Robert Dunn
At the core of this novel is Fear: fear of dying, fear of living. Some characters are torn between giving up on the way to an assured demise, others block out joy and pleasure and happiness in order to dwell on horrific memories a decade in the past. Some refuse to acknowledge their personal responsibility, others internalize victimization into guilt and shame. All of these options are emotionally and psychologically crippling.
In the beautifully scenic Ozarks, under a surface of scenery, contentment, simple joys and peace, stirs a monstrous conspiracy fueled (as almost always) by greed. Whiskey, illicit drug operations, and violence rumble under that pleasant surface, as does out-of-town criminal muscle and a cultural phenomenon which is often dismissed as "urban legend" and in Martin Reaves' A FRACTURED CONJURING is given the coined term "Chronic Mysticism." From a metaphysics viewpoint, this involves the use of mass thought forms to create a "tulpa" of the mind and of the culture, bringing to life a construction of the mind and propagandizing belief in it in the minds of the public (or a subculture).
Sheriff's Detective Katrina Williams carries a horrendous weight from her past. In addition to the thoughts and memories that constantly trouble her, she must battle her own as-yet-unacknowledged addiction to alcohol, and the occasional bullying of male law enforcement determined that she is "less" than they. She experienced this over and over during her tenure as an Army officer, a tenure which resulted in the PTSD with which she daily struggles.
I have not found a story so troubling since I read Lee Child's THE VISITOR, which also deals with military sexual harassment, and all the way back to Thanksgiving of 1975, Susan Brownmiller's AGAINST OUR WILL: MEN, WOMEN, AND RAPE. Author Robert Dunn (whose books RED HIGHWAY and MOTORMAN I have reviewed and found immensely moving) has elicited all the emotional trauma, the victim's shame and guilt, the rage for vengeance, by making "Hurricane" Katrina Williams a vibrant, even larger-than-life, individual, in this very moving mystery.
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