Presidio by Randy Kennedy

presidioTroy Falconer is an habitual car thief.  What was once a profession for him is now a lifestyle, with Troy relieving a succession of hapless auto owners in the early 1970s Texas panhandle.  His places of business are the motels and motor courts of the area, where Troy revels in the lack of possessions; the only things sustaining him are the air-conditioned motel rooms and the identities of his victims, that are oh-so-easily transferred and discarded.  He owns nothing, and likes it.

Troy explains himself and his background in a series of italicized journal entries interspersed throughout the narrative.  He elaborates on his choice of lifestyle and his growing up years with his younger brother Harlan, who couldn’t be more different from Troy.

It takes some time to figure out where the narrative is going, as we’re not really sure why Troy has hovered over this corner of Texas so diligently.  You’d figure, as a semi-wanted man, that he’d move around more.  But Troy has his reasons, and in his years lifting more lucrative models for others, he’s learned things about covering up tracks.

As Presidio clicks along, you’ll find that Harlan has had some problems with marriage – namely that of a disappearing wife with a tidy sum of money.   And Troy has been hovering to pick the right time to help his brother, but it’ll require Harlan to travel, a hard proposition for someone who has never moved from their hometown.  They’ll also have to rotate through a few car model changes, and encounter an unknown passenger in the person of a young Mennonite girl, who sees her accidental kidnapping as a way of getting back to her father, from whom she was taken when he was jailed by authorities across the border.

Presidio is a well-written, slow simmer of a book.  You have to immerse yourself in the descriptions and the broad expanse of Texas, but the landscape comes alive in its own time and manner, and becomes almost a character in itself.  Plus, the interactions between the two brothers is hilarious and Martha Zacharias, the stowaway/kidnapped child, who more than holds her own against her reluctant detainers.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

 

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