In the opening of DEVIL SENT THE RAIN, you get the expected corpse, a bride in a bloody wedding dress but her car's in a surreal bison refuge–a touch Flannery O'Connor might like. Billy Able's the hard-bitten detective with a soft heart, known for his bad temper and penchant for solving cases with hunches. He's a local Memphis boy, though not his female partner, Frankie Malone, his meticulous and not so confident junior. There's the expected police chief, who keeps them in-line.
What's not typical of the genre is the colorful patter, which explores the strangely desperate dark side of the genteel aristocracy. O'Connor used patter as a veneer for an almost Darwinian savagery. Faulkner's dialects are currents of tortured emotion about privilege, home and habit gone or cries of the dirt poor, who never really had a place in a world sinking like swampland. Multiple narratives, interior monologues meander with a sense that accrues like soil.
Turner's words serve Billy, who's got a job to do. An orphan from the “wrong side of the tracks,” raised with a reverence for the powerful Lees, he knew well from work in his uncle's coffee shop. The beautiful Caroline Lee, partner in her family's law firm, was the corpse in the car. He has an unprofessional passion to nail her killer. But finding the truth means he must give no quarter to sentiment. He has to tame his temper, relinquish cherished beliefs, and upend his town's class system. In the process, he endangers his life and his job–not to mention his partner's future. In the end, he must also accept that the fact he can't make the world “right as rain.”
This a book Turner's fans will like. It's also enjoyable, if you haven't read a previous Billy Able mystery.