book review: hell on church street by jake hinkson
April 9, 2012
From time to time, someone writes a first novel so perfect that it seems like something that’s happening rather than something being read. Examples are James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice, Vicki Hendricks’ Miami Purity, Benjamin Whitmer’s Pike, and most of all,George V. Higgins’ The Friends of Eddie Coyle. Now Jake Hinkson joins that roster with this short, flawless tale of religion, sex and murder that has the feel of a noir classic.
It begins with the narrator trying to rob a morbidly obese man at gunpoint outside a convenience store. They take a short road trip together, and the man tells his would-be captor the story of how he was once a youth minister in Arkansas, and how his obsession with a preacher’s teenage daughter led to a battle to the death with a drug-dealing sheriff and his violent, incestuous hillbilly clan. When the ride ends, the narrator learns the truth about himself — that he is only a normal person pretending to be bad, but that he has met an evil person who pretends to be good.