Assumption.

Author:Mills, S. Hope
Position:Book review

Percival Everett (author); ASSUMPTION; Graywolf Press (Fiction: Mystery) $15.00 ISBN: 9781555975892

Byline: S. Hope Mills

Ogden Walker -- biracial, former Marine, sheriff's deputy, main character in Percival Everett's latest novel, Assumption: a man who prefers fly fishing to firearms and violence. Or so we assume.

Everett's prose is stark, so plain in places that the smallest details have an eerie glow. All of it, of course, leads up to an ending that has the reader questioning every assumption he or she has had over the course of the three cases presented in this novel, a triptych of murder mysteries.

When Ogden investigates gunshots in a local neighborhood, the gun's owner turns out to be an elderly woman who has never liked him (he assumes because he is black). Encountering her reminds Ogden of his own father's bigotry, how he "hated white people, but not enough to refrain from marrying one, Ogden's mother." It was hard, Ogden acknowledged, "for a son to think that his father hated half of him. Perhaps this is why he was willing to care enough about the bigoted white woman who was now missing." But it turns out she's more than missing -- she's dead.

The next case seems easy enough -- a young woman comes from Ireland to find her American cousin who supposedly lives high in...

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