Friday, April 10, 2009

COLD SKIN by Steven Herrick

Set in a small Australian town and the area surrounding it, COLD SKIN is the story of brothers Eddie and Larry Holding, their parents, friends, and townspeople. What ties them together besides community connections is the disappearance and murder of a young girl.

Eddie Holding is on the edge of adulthood. He'll be finished with school soon, and his dream is to put his size and strength to good use by working in the mines. It's a dangerous occupation and his father disapproves, but for years Eddie has watched the local young men leave school to work the difficult job and make a decent wage. His father, on the other hand, fought hard in the war and then came home to do a boy's job working at chore-like jobs for a neighboring farmer. Eddie has never understood why his father puts up with ridicule from the locals about his cowardly job.

An observer of people, Eddie watches those around him. He watches as his older brother Larry drinks himself into a stupor each night at the local bar and then comes home to vomit in the garden and snore in bed until morning. There's the local mayor who never got a chance to fight in the war with the rest of the town's men. He spends his time bragging about his uncontested victory and gathering votes to assure he continues as leader of the town. Mr. Butcher, a high school teacher, leads a mysterious double life. During the week he teaches at the local high school and each weekend heads to the city. Eddie decides to follow his teacher one weekend and discovers he has a fondness for young girls. And speaking of young girls, Eddie experiences his first love with Sally and at the same time, fantasizes about Colleen whose disappearance and death tear apart the town.

Author Steven Herrick tells the story of Burruga, Australia, in prose verse. The alternating view points give readers a glimpse into the minds and hearts of all the characters. Young Eddie guides the fast-paced story and provides the connections necessary to understand the people of the tiny town.

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