LIFE WITH CROWS
AUTHORS: DOUGLAS PRESTON AND LINCOLN CHILD WARNER BOOKS HARDCOVER
@ $36.95 CAN.
REVIEW BY ALEX GRANT.
rip-roaring American Gothic horror novel set deep in the scalding corn-belt
of Kansas STILL LIFE WITH CROWS is totally absurd and derivative
an amalgam of X-Files and Stephen King featuring an other-worldly FBI
agent with exquisite taste in clothes and food and all the appurtenances
of the super-rich.
This mystery man is actually on vacation and is a very smooth operator
who can relate to the hayseeds and the rednecks in this very remote
corner of know-nothing nowhere- Medicine Creek notorious for a massacre
in 1865; August 14th to be precise when a band of Cheyenne warriors
slew a bloodthirsty gang of forty-five white vigilantes. The site was
'The Mounds' a legendary haunted set of hillocks strewn with relics
from the Indian Wars scratched over by modern day tomb raiders.
Agent Pendergast locks horns with local sheriff Dent Hazen, a wily curmudgeon
desperate to put an end to a sudden splurge of grotesque, ghastly murders
within the serried ranks of seven-foot high corn. The heat is a living
threatening presence at all times, and a macabre turkey abattoir is
a central site for bloody mayhem after hours.
The authors are expert at setting the scene for each episode of suspense
and gore. Both the good guys and the bad guys get the chop from a subhuman
monster with superhuman strength who lives deep down in Krauss
Kaverns, a catch-penny but impressive tourist trap that conceals a deep
Preston and Child are also men with a no-nonsense approach to this splatter
genre, always delivering more and more gore and always keeping the interplay
of character at a high boil. Medicine Creek is a community rapidly going
to hell in a hand-basket, through no fault of its harmless devoted denizens
with one exception thanks to the major agri-business corporations
who would now. after driving the small farmers off their land,like to
experiment with genetically altered crops to produce better gasohol
from the local corn. Much of the drama centers upon rivalry with the
nearby township of Deeper for the Kansas State University to look kindly
upon Medicine Creek as the chosen site for more rash meddling with Mother
STILL LIFE WITH CROWS should not work as impressively as it does since
the bare-bones of the story are utterly familiar and foreseeable from
page one yet clearly the authors believed wholly in their tallest of
tales, chose to root it in actual history, and in a pungently imagined
locale, and brought the entire crazy-quilt of influences to completion
with brazen self-confidence and know-how.
© Alex Grant June 2003
all rights reserved