Galveston: A Novel
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From the creator, writer, and executive producer of the HBO crime series True Detective, comes a dark and visceral literary debut set along the seedy wastelands of Galveston.
On the same day that Roy Cady is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he senses that his boss, a dangerous loan-sharking bar-owner, wants him dead. Known “without affection” to members of the boss’s crew as “Big Country” on account of his long hair, beard, and cowboy boots, Roy is alert to the possibility that a routine assignment could be a deathtrap. Which it is. Yet what the would-be killers do to Roy Cady is not the same as what he does to them, which is to say that after a smoking spasm of violence, they are mostly dead and he is mostly alive.
Before Roy makes his getaway, he realizes there are two women in the apartment, one of them still breathing, and he sees something in her frightened, defiant eyes that causes a fateful decision. He takes her with him as he goes on the run from New Orleans to Galveston, Texas—an action as ill-advised as it is inescapable. The girl’s name is Rocky, and she is too young, too tough, too sexy—and far too much trouble. Roy, Rocky, and her sister hide in the battered seascape of Galveston’s country-western bars and fleabag hotels, a world of treacherous drifters, pickup trucks, and ashed-out hopes. Any chance that they will find safety there is soon lost. Rocky is a girl with quite a story to tell, one that will pursue and damage Roy for a very long time to come.
Recalling the moody violence of the early novels of Cormac McCarthy and Denis Johnson, this powerful, potent, and atmospheric thriller is impossible to put down. Constructed with maximum tension and haunting aftereffect, written in darkly beautiful prose, Galveston announces the arrival of a major new literary talent.
called the Starliter. I paid cash, and the old woman behind the desk was nearly bald, dipping snuff, and she didn’t ask for ID. She reminded me of Matilda, the woman who’d cooked at the group home, meals of blood pudding, powdered eggs. The room had a single king-size bed and the A/C rattled the windowpanes. Rocky went to the bathroom while I pulled off my boots and stuffed my pistol down one, tucked them with the lockbox under the bed. I took off my jacket and belt and fell back on the room’s
hand on her chin at the kitchen table. Drinking rum punch until her eyes took on a blowsy, dazed character. Then she might want me to dance with her. I was always tall, and she could put her head on my shoulder and the clattering fan would blow the smells of her sweat and soap warmly over me, and the skin of her arms would stick to my neck a little. Those nights she might tell me a story. Her stories were about the time before me, when she worked in Beaumont for a man named Harper Robicheaux,
have always thought of me as trash, which is fine because they’re also scared of me. It’s not like I had any desire to climb the corporational ladder. I’d always gotten along fine with Angelo, though. Before the stuff with Carmen. The office door opened then and Carmen stepped out, flattening her skirt and teasing her hair a bit, and right away she saw me and kind of froze. But Stan came out behind her and she walked down the stairs with him following, tucking his shirt at the back. Their
scrounged around for guts and shells under the tables. Signs of history: old Spanish churches hardening in the heat; white stone and pink brick, adobe, stucco; a three-masted ship from the 1800s, full of false pride at the Seaport Museum. You could broker the future here. Dump your memories into the white light of the Gulf like leaves into a bonfire. The little girl’s hands were on the window, her mouth hanging open. She whispered as if it were a secret. “What’s it?” Rocky spoke in her ear.
confirm what I’d sensed about her pragmatic streak. The whole time I waited for sirens. I stepped to the windows and looked out, but the night appeared still and untroubled. The girl had gathered a big purse from the side room and stuffed some things in it when she was done rifling pockets. She rose up with a fierce, sober look. “Vonda,” she said. “My friend Vonda.” She started to walk down the hall, toward the bedroom, and I grabbed her wrist. I shook my head. “You don’t want to see that.”