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 Fiction Review   

 

 

Welcome to the Fallen Paradise
By Dayne Sherman
MacAdam/Cage, 2004
Hardcover, $24.00 (248 pages)
ISBN: 1931561737
 
 
 

In his debut novel Welcome to the Fallen Paradise (MacAdam/Cage, 2004), Dayne Sherman recreates the underbelly of south-Louisiana life in this modern-day tale that weds the styles of Faulkner and Grisham, while including a dash or two of Cajun culture.   

Jesse Tadlock narrates his own tale of longing for the simple, southern life after a twelve-year army stint—only to find himself fully engaged in terrorist warfare with “Cotton” Moxley, who lays claim to the land Tadlock has just bought.  The novel weaves together a fabric of an uncle who will not let the Tadlock family name be neutered by Moxley, a boatload of corrupt Louisiana politics, and one of the meanest, inbred villains in all of southern literature.     

Sherman shines with his foreboding scenes that foreshadow the mounting action.  The first two or three chapters build like a bank of thunderheads, giving way to the stormy plot that then races out of control.  The real strength of the story is in the convergence between Jesse Tadlock’s passive nature and his turbulent circumstances.  Throughout the majority of the novel, Jesse seems content to float through a murky existence—bearing with boredom and lack of direction in the army, silently mourning the death of his mother, and returning to Baxter Parish for a prospective job with the sheriff’s office.  Fate, however, forces Tadlock to assert himself for something larger than a mere existence, as he must stand and stare into the eyes of evil.

This haunting tale of honor, dignity, and evil may be one of the year's best.

 

Barry Dunlap
Southern Scribe Reviews
 

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