Because there are a number of Terry Pratchett fans here, and some suspense /mystery readers as well, I would like to recommend Castle Freeman Jr.’s novel ALL THAT I HAVE. It’s a little book, only 165 pages, because that’s exactly enough pages to tell the story (stories) it wants to tell. Imagine Sam Vimes as a Vermont sheriff, responsible for 17 towns in a mostly-depopulated corner of a thinly-settled state — or maybe the son of Captain Vimes and Esme Weatherwax, serving and protecting Lancre and a double-handful of similar hamlets in his own remote corner of the Ramtops.
Sheriff Lucian Wing (as he’s known in this corner of the metaverse) has to deal with a bunch of very dangerous people From Away, who are looking for something the local bad boy may have taken from them, while dealing with various domestic complications caused by the fact that very few people can be content with exactly what they’ve got. This doesn’t sound humorous, but (as told in Sheriff Wing’s dry voice) it’s very funny. And it doesn’t sound tragic, although many of Wing’s anecdotes concern all the sorrows of the human condition. It’s one of those rare books you read quickly, because you can’t wait to see how it comes out, and then go back and start re-reading immediately, because you’re afraid you might have missed something the first time through.
I think I picked it up on a recommendation from a Boston Globe review, comparing ALL THAT I HAVE to one of Donald Westlake’s novels. Which is a pretty good comparison, if you can imagine one of Parker’s plots narrated by Dortmunder. It’s available through Amazon, as are a couple more novels and some essays by Castle Freeman Jr., which I am already starting to acquire.
(Late-night test post, not related to anything in particular, just to see if I can get this thing off the ground without getting caught in the trees.)