Deep Winter (20 February 2014) by Samuel W. Gailey

97803991659622 stars

I would like to thank the publisher through NetGalley for my review copy of Deep Winter by Samuel W. Gailey.
Deep Winter is one part To Kill a Mockingbird, and one big part a Quentin Tarantino type Kill Bill action thriller.
Deep Winter is the story of Danny, a grown man with a low IQ, who is ostracized by almost everyone in the small Pennsylvania town in which he has lived all his life. He has one friend, Mindy Knolls, who is a waitress at the local dinner. As the story begins, it is a cold winter morning in 1984, and Danny has carved a beautiful wooden robin to give to Mindy for her birthday. Unfortunately, when Danny arrives at her trailer to give her his gift, he discovers that  Mindy has been brutally murdered.
Almost simultaneously, we are introduced to deputy sheriff Mike Sokowski, Mindy’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, who is pretty much the most corrupt cop and all around evil guy that one can imagine. Mike is responsible for Mindy’s death, but decides to blame it on slow-witted Danny.
What follows is a blood bath (with occasional vomiting and defecating thrown in for good measure) in which Sokowski pursues Danny, and Danny tries to escape and tell the truth about Mindy’s murder.
Deep Winter is more of an action thriller than a mystery, because the identity of the murderer, and Danny’s discovery of Mindy’s body, are both revealed to the reader in the first few chapters of the story. The author writes with multiple pov’s. This allows him to explain the action from an omniscient perspective.
I’ve noticed quite a few authors using multiple pov’s lately to achieve this omniscient affect, and I’m ambivalent about this technique. I think dual, or multiple pov’s can be used very powerfully to show how different characters have limited, or skewed world views, or to demonstrate how they misunderstand each other’s intentions. But when multiple pov’s are utilized mainly in order to most easily advance the plot, it seems a little like the author is just sneakily being the all-knowing narrator.  Deep Winter definitely falls into this second category, with new narrators entering the novel throughout as they appear in the story.
As I read Deep Winter, I continually asked myself what the author’s goal was in this novel.  At first, I thought Gailey was attempting to write about ostracism, and to tell a touching, if gritty story about the suffering of someone viewed as different. His omnipresent use of bird metaphors to describe Danny seemed, while a bit overdone, to suggest that Gailey meant for the novel to have literary depth.
However, in short order, the story descended into unending, over-the-top, violence and gore. In scene after scene, there were fights, broken bones, and bloody deaths. Deep Winter had probably the highest body count of any book I can recall reading, and I wondered half-seriously to myself if there would be anyone remaining alive in that unfortunate town by the end of the book.
Then, suddenly, everything wrapped up, and the novel ended on a slightly meaningful note. To me however, what was meant to be a touching conclusion seemed too little too late compared to the slaughter that we had witnessed throughout the novel.
On a positive note, I will say that Deep Winter was never boring. There was non-stop action once the book began. Fans of action thrillers, or fans of movies or books with over-the-top violence will be entertained by Deep Winter. However, to me, the violence simply for the sake of violence, was a turn off, and seemed meaningless.  For me, the end of Deep Winter did not justify the means.

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