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Uncivil Seasons (1983)

de Michael Malone

Sèrie: Savile and Mangum (1)

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299967,009 (3.97)29
The polite Piedmont town of Hillston, North Carolina, wants to go on believing it is still too temperate to require homicide experts. But when the wife of a state senator is found beaten to death, the inner circle of Hillston's ruling families arranges to have the case assigned to Detective Justin Savile, the charming black sheep of the dynasty that founded the town.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 9 (següent | mostra-les totes)
A well-written description of tensions between the upper-class North Carolinians (horses, Latin classics, civility, UNC, top-dog sanatoriums for alcoholics, politics, money) and the working stiffs (and stiffettes) who slugged thru their lives in the textile mills that made the green stuff. Black workers are given a nod, but stay in the Southern background (not as bad as in Mayberry which was right down the hiway.)
One detective from each class. One kiss-butt Chief of Police hindering the investigation (as always). One old-school mill owner, one new MBA off-shoring exec. A bit of hokey pokey (upper class), love interest (mixed class) and skanky goings on (lowest class). (If this sounds like a romance-remember Malone was a Soap Opera writer for many years.) Some hocus pocus too with a vision-seeing family castoff throwing things off track. And some murders.
Nice read.
( )
  kerns222 | Aug 24, 2016 |
The murder of his uncle’s wife, in what seems at first to be a random robbery, prompts police lieutenant Justin Savile to dredge up long-buried secrets that threaten his very old family and the monied elite that rule the small town where he lives.

I am proud of my Southern heritage, and I usually enjoy Southern fiction, in small doses. Too much, and I find it cloying, like overly sweetened tea. At first, I was afraid that was what Uncivil Seasons would be, as the Southern accents are so thick they almost drip from the page. Justin Savile lives in a small North Carolina town called Hillston, modeled no doubt on the town where both I and Michael Malone live. The town is peopled with all the types of Southern fiction, the old, wealthy families who rule the town, and the poor white trash raise hell on the wrong sides of the tracks. There are also a few eccentric characters: the homeless woman who spouts religious prophecies in the streets and the black music store owner with a great sense of style and a side business fencing stolen goods. And Justin’s partner Cuddy Mangum, who cannot shut up and comes off at first like a younger, wittier Barney Fife.

But there is an unexpected depth to this story and a surprising humanness to these characters. As Justin digs deeper into the case, and as we learn more about him and the people around him, the novel becomes elevated above a mere cozy Southern mystery. Through the investigation, Justin comments on small-town life and politics, his failure to live up to what his family expected of him, and his struggles to figure out the kind of life he really wants to build. At the same time, the people in his life reveal themselves not as stereotypes, but as full-fledged, interesting human beings. Malone invites us to embrace the caricatures, and then to look beyond them for the truth.

I was surprised to realize this book was published in the 1980s (although I should have realized it from the characters’ references to the Vietnam War). The story feels fresh and current. It was a pleasant discovery for me, and I will probably look for more of Michael Malone’s books. ( )
2 vota sturlington | Mar 16, 2014 |
This is a fantastic read. It combines a slow, unhurried southern style with passages of pure lyrical poetry that make me pause and re-read, pause again and contemplate how Malone came up with the imagery and why I can’t ever think of such cool metaphors. And all this superb writing in a whodunit murder mystery with two police detectives as the main characters. Justin and Cuddy are the high points of the book, each sharply drawn and given equal time, but the ancillary characters are also well developed, with quirks and eccentricities that keep the story moving. The book is overly long, but that is a minor quibble when I am immersed in Malone’s world. Read this book. ( )
  jennorthcoast | Mar 9, 2014 |
Wry, skillful portraits of southern small town characters, as seen through the eyes of two policemen. Mystery keeps you going, but
it's the people that are the chief entertainment. A delight to read. ( )
  debtewksbury | Sep 21, 2009 |
Uncivil Seasons by Michael Malone was a complete surprise to me. First of all because I live within about 30 miles of the part of the US he writes about, second because I can’t believe I’ve never heard of him before, and third because this book was exquisite. I’m so happy to have discovered such a wonderful writer. Fortunately he’s written quite a few books so I can happily look forward to reading much more by him.

This book is the first in a series of mysteries with police detectives Justin Savile and Cuddy Mangum. It takes place in Hillston, North Carolina, a fictitious town closely resembling Hillsborough, where Malone lives, and nearby Chapel Hill.

Savile and Mangum are partners. They are as different as night and day yet work well together and have great respect and affection for each other. This book is told from Justin Savile's point of view.

Savile’s aunt by marriage, a prominent local woman, is murdered. She is the widow of a man who drowned many years ago. Her second husband, Savile’s uncle, had a relationship many years ago with a woman who supposedly commits suicide within weeks of the murder. There are textile mill and state politics involved, industrial espionage, and matters of the heart for both Savile and Mangum. How it all ties together is tightly managed and satisfyingly explained.

The dialog is rich with local color and rings with authenticity. I “saw” every character as clearly as if they had been invited over to have sweet tea on my front porch and discuss the weather. There are rich and powerful folks, working class folks, poor white trash, a crazy old black woman, and a powerful black music store owner and fence for stolen goods. There are many stereotyped characters, but especially in North Carolina, as I have discovered, the stereotypes are true and endearing, true and tragic.

This is an extremely clever and intelligent mystery, with many layers. It isn’t even one mystery, really, but a snapshot in the lives of the two detectives, Savile’s family, and how love and hate play out over decades. I found myself laughing out loud over some of the situations and language. The humor is both broad and subtle.

I recommend this book without reservation. ( )
2 vota karenmarie | Jun 12, 2009 |
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The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It shall be called Bottom's Dream, because it hath no bottom; and I will sing it in the latter end of a play, before the duke; peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall sing it at her death. -- Nick Bottom, a Weaver, A Midsummer Night's Dream
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Two things don't happen very often in Hillston, North Carolina.
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The polite Piedmont town of Hillston, North Carolina, wants to go on believing it is still too temperate to require homicide experts. But when the wife of a state senator is found beaten to death, the inner circle of Hillston's ruling families arranges to have the case assigned to Detective Justin Savile, the charming black sheep of the dynasty that founded the town.

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