Deep Winter is Samuel W. Gailey's debut novel.
Gentle giant Danny has lived in Wyalusing, a small town in Northern Pennsylvania, for his entire life. An accident has left Danny with brain injuries, but he has made a small place for himself. And he tries to lead a small life as he is the target of taunts and bullying and has few friends. But Mindy, the waitress who serves him breakfast every morning, is an exception. She has only treated him with kindness. Danny walks to her trailer on her birthday to deliver a gift - only to find the local sheriff's deputy, Sokowski, already there. And Mindy is dead.
The reader knows early on who has killed Mindy. But the race is on - will the killer be caught? Or will Danny take the fall?
There are few likable characters in the book. Sokowski is one of the nastiest antagonists I've read in a while. Many of the 'good' characters are flawed in some way as well. Gailey's characters were quite vivid I quickly turned pages. The reader cannot help but react to each one.
Indeed the whole town seems dismal, dreary and defeated. "Gailey was raised in a small town in northeast Pennsylvania (population 379), which serves as the setting for his debut novel." The setting definitely had a ring of authenticity. The blizzard that envelopes the town serves to further isolate the town and the drama playing out.
Deep Winter is told from multiple points of view - the killer, Mindy, Danny and more. I found this highly effective as it only heightened the tension. The reader is aware of what's going to happen next - or think we are. Gailey knows just when to end a chapter - ensuring I had to read just one more and then another before turning off the light for the evening.
Gailey has worked as a screenwriter and Deep Winter read like a movie for me. (Quentin Tarantino sprang to mind.) It's grim and gritty and not recommended for gentle readers. But it was a page turner for me. There's been a new genre label bandied about - "grit lit" or "rural noir". Deep Winter is a great example of this style. Read an excerpt of Deep Winter.
You can find Samuel W. Gailey on Facebook and on Twitter.