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General Fiction Review  

 
 
 
  Twin City
   by Jerry Lee Davis
   Authorlink Press, 2000
   ISBN: 1-928704-13-1

 

Twin City is a southern gothic tale of fictional Greentown, a small town in north Georgia.  The title does not refer to the actual town of Twin City, Georgia located in Emanuel County.   The title does refer to a safe place for the main characters and symbolizes several twins or parallel lives in the complex course of Jerry Lee Davis’s novel. 

Tommy Byers has been charged with first-degree murder.  As he tells his life story to his attorney in preparation for his testimony in the courtroom, Tommy weaves a tale of survival.   

At birth, Tommy was unwanted.  He was the youngest of three boys, and his father wanted a daughter.  It may be to replace his father’s sister who was accidentally shot at age three as his grandfather was cleaning a gun.  The Byers were dirt poor and the home was abusive.  One brother spent most of the time behind bars and the other turned to drugs.  Tommy’s mother was always planning her great escape.   

On the first day of school in the first grade, Tommy discovered his soul mate – Blayne Bussell.  She is the daughter of the only Jewish family in town and comes from wealth.  Blayne has a quick wit and a natural ability to draw people to her.  A favorite teacher refers to them as “ twins”, and they name their special oak “twin city”.   

Growing up during the sixties and seventies, Tommy and Blayne must face a climate of social change.  A variety of extremes cause tension.  Tommy’s mother complains about the Bussell’s money and reminds Tommy that he is poor.  The Bussells are a loving family, while the Byers household has fear as its foundation.  There are the old stories Klan or white abuse on blacks, and the reality that the abuse continues for the weak.  There are stories of sexual awakening, that range from crude language directed at Blayne to Tommy’s experience at a sleepover with a male friend. There is the story of the Vietnam vet, who loses his battle against inner demons, but gives Tommy the means to escape the demon at home.   

One night the charmed world of Tommy and Blayne ends.  As Blayne is driving home from dinner at Tommy’s, she is forced off the road, beaten up and raped.  At this point their roles reverse.  Where Blayne had been the stronger twin pulling Tommy into the light, it is now Tommy’s turn to pull Blayne from the darkness.   

Blayne gets Tommy to drive her to Atlanta for an abortion.  The nurse assumes he is the father and instructs him on the use of condoms.  When they return to Tommy’s house in Greentown, Blayne begins to hemorrhage, but she has actually had a miscarriage.  Blayne had been carrying twins.  The Bussells blame Tommy, until the next day when Blayne disappears.  Tommy finds Blayne at Twin City, where she tells him what happen the night of his dinner party. 

During the novel, the possible victim at Tommy’s hands changes from time to time.  After Blayne finishes her tale of abuse, Tommy becomes a vigilante and shoots Blayne’s abuser between the eyes.  Until the last page, that abuser could be one of two people.  Davis cleverly stages the courtroom scene to create a strong impact at the end. 

Twin City is strong southern fiction that captures the humor and tension of the period in the spirit of Harper Lee and Truman Capote.    

Note:  This book may be too upsetting for pregnant women or new mothers.

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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