Larry D. Sweazy's crime novels are dark and gritty, and the heroes aren't always figures everyone would find heroic. Often, they are struggling with their own weaknesses and problems. Hud Matthews has been searching for answers since he was eight years old. After a twenty year absence, he's returned home to a dying town, a town with secrets. And, Hud stirs up trouble and murder when he takes a job with the country sheriff's department in Where I Can See You.
Matthews had been a police detective in Detroit, but when Sheriff Burke, a childhood friend, offered him a job after Hud's grandmother died, he took it. Within a couple days of his arrival, he had his first case. A young woman was found dead, with a single gunshot to the back of her head, and left on the shore of the lake. Although Hud uses his memories of his childhood to track down the woman's missing son, it's about the only thing that goes right in Matthews' job. He angers Burke, receives warnings against looking for his mother and stirring up trouble, and he's caught up in the murder investigation that only turns up more bodies.
But, Hud won't stop digging, for answers to the murders, or for answers to his mother's story. When Hud was eight, his mother got into a black car, waved at him, and disappeared. He spent years imagining her drowned in the lake, or fed to a lion. But, he knew his mother wouldn't just leave him. He's relentless. "I just want to know the truth. It was the one thing that pushed him forward, urged him to get out of bed, face whatever pain he had to, and do his job." He's relentless with both cases he's trying to solve, the current murders, and the disappearance of his mother.
The town where Hud is now has changed. The exciting summer vacationland is decayed. "Everything looked smaller, distant, rundown in a fading, crumbling kind of way." That's what Sweazy does so well. He creates gray stories. The heroes are stuck in bleak situations. The atmosphere and setting may be dark, dying, decaying. But, Sweazy's protagonists persist, plodding through their own pain. And, it's evident in this story, told both as the ongoing account of Hud's new search, and as an after-the-fact interview with Hud, that the man has suffered. He suffered as a child with the loss of his mother, the loss of a childhood, the loss of innocence. Now, in Where I Can See You, he's left with just a determination to find the truth. Larry D. Sweazy's stories of loss and pain are powerful.
Larry D. Sweazy's website is www.larrydsweazy.com
Where I Can See You by Larry D. Sweazy. Seventh Street Books. 2017. ISBN 9781633882119 (paperback), 255p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.