The Madrone Tree Author:David Duncan What was the evil that lurked in the heart of Bull Woods near the madrone tree, whose bark resembled human flesh? To the sheriff, the madrone tree was simply the scene of two murders in which the victims died in strange ways, to the accompaniment of wild laughter. To the Reverend Manley Foxx the tree was a symbol of the Devil. — By revealing the ... more »powerful undercurrents of a small town and stripping bare the repressed drives of its people, David Duncan has provided a highly unusual drama. With an eerie and calculated deliberation he keeps the reader awaiting an outcome which, far from being supernatural, proves all too human.« less
Duncan's mystery is set among the giant redwoods of the west coast, in an isolated town dominated by a saw mill and a fanatical preacher. The setting is interesting, and the writing is fluid. The mystery is satisfying, and so is the pyschological analysis of some of the characters involved.
I loved these golden age mysteries, but had never heard of Duncan, until reading a positive review of his Shade of Time in a book of Anthony Boucher's 1940's book reviews. He's virtually unknown today, but this book provided me with a few hours of entertainment in an unusual setting.