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Cypress Grove tells two stories simultaneously. In present time, ex- detective Turner returns to the rural south to pursue a hermitlike existence. Soon, though, he is drawn by the local sheriff into the investigation of the murder of an anonymous homeless man who has been, in effect, crucified, with a stake driven into his chest. Alternate chapters relate Turner's past: how he joined the Memphis police department and more or less by happenstance got promoted to detective, how eventually it came about that he killed his partner and, sentenced to one year in prison, there was forced to kill again in self defense, drawing down twenty-five years. In prison he turned to university study, earned a master's degree in psychology and, released after nine years, practiced as a therapist before returning to the hills in which he was born. Stories of cases Turner worked as a detective in the city -- an unsolved series of vigilante murders, the hospital orderly who abducted a brain-damaged young girl he'd fallen in love with -- bolster the narrative of his personal history. These in turn are reflected in memories of "clients" with whom he worked as therapist: Jimmie the Machine, convinced that his batteries were running down; a man who mutilated his infant son. Meanwhile, as Turner becomes reacquainted with a life he fled long ago, the investigation leads him to a thirty-year-old cult film and its mysterious creator. First brutalized, then numbed by what he saw as policeman and as therapist as well as by his own pain, Turner came here to withdraw from human contact. Instead, with the death of a man born to apartness, the ultimate stranger, Turner is drawn ineffably back to life and to a sense of community.
Praise for this book
"He's right up there, one of the best of the best." - Ian Rankin
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