Friday, August 20, 2010

Mark Cotton

Mark Cotton is the author of Two Bits Four Bits, a mystery set in a small town in west Texas in present day. Buddy Griffin returns to his hometown of Elmore, Texas after retiring as a homicide detective with the Austin Texas Police Department. During a high school reunion weekend Buddy's high school sweetheart's banker husband is shot dead in the couple's swimming pool. Buddy becomes involved in the investigation and uncovers a missing bank teller, a safe deposit box full of dirty money and an extortion plot gone wrong.

Earlier this month I asked Cotton what he was reading. His reply:
I just finished reading Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell. It’s the story of sixteen-year-old Ree Dolly, who lives in the Ozark Mountains where her family has lived for generations in a closed and isolated group existing outside the fringes of the law.

Ree Dolly’s father is due to appear at a court hearing on charges of operating a crystal meth lab but he seems to have disappeared completely. Ree is the nearest thing to a responsible adult in the household and knows that if her father can’t be located in time the family will lose their home, which has been taken as collateral by a bail bondsman. The book documents her search for her father and the resistance she faces from secretive and violent family members who don’t want her to learn the truth about what happened to him. Along the way, we watch as Ree and her best friend, who is also a teenaged girl, struggle to find a way to keep the children they’re responsible for from becoming part of the meth-producing machinery that consumes the young men of the area.

Woodrell does a good job of capturing the microcosm of today’s underground methamphetamine-driven economy that grew out of yesterday’s moonshine-driven one. He also shows us the devastating effect that growing up in such an environment can have on the children exposed to it.

This book was my introduction to Daniel Woodrell and I’m looking forward to reading more of his work. I’m also anxious to see the movie adaptation, which recently won the 2010 Sundance Grand Jury Prize.
Visit Mark Cotton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue