The River Warren begins with a resounding crash, as a packed tractor-trailer plows through a hardware store, killing all the cattle aboard as well as the driver, Two-Speed Crandall, and his wife, LouAnn. The accident--or lack thereof--sends the little farming town of Cloten into a veritable orgy of speculation: "The talk goes around and around about Two-Speed Crandall, but the talk's all about something else, like a whirlpool still in its center and everything going around it," says Angel Finn, owner of the hardware store. "It's like Two-Speed, now that he's dead, and dead's about as still as you can get, he's drawn other stories to him, and they're all whirling around, and people're trying to see it all." A drunk, idler, and notable eccentric, hated and feared by the town as well as his sensitive son, Luke, Two-Speed Crandall is the still place at this dreamlike novel's center, drawing stories to him as inexorably as swirling water. Before the novel is over, Luke and his best friend, Jeff Gruber, uncover the secret of their families' tangled histories, while the rest of the town rehashes old rumors, gossip, and slights both real and imagined. Told by seven distinct voices, in prose that is by turns lyrical and down to earth, this ambitious and powerful debut novel never quite solves the mystery that was Two-Speed Crandall--but it goes straight to the heart of what makes small towns tick.
--A really good book written by an author from my home state--