Tom Poole was tired of corpses. In those days death had become a way of life. He had been driving north along the Port Arthur highway with the bay behind him, a long shiny seam of water, heading home after a hard Saturday, when the call came over his radio. Dispatch said there was a dead guy in a fishing shack just down the beach from the old marina. Poole knew where that was, and something—he didn’t know what, made him turn east, back toward the ocean. It took him some driving around the barren dunes, sumps and oil pits, and tule groves, but he finally found the shack, and the corpse, and now he was waiting on the veranda for the sheriff.
In an intriguing departure from the Mitch Roberts series, Dold comes to Port Arthur, Texas and the Gulf shore, where oil and gas are king. Here the shrimping that has supported the area’s fishermen and their families, and has drawn numbers of Vietnamese immigrants searching for a living, has all but closed down. Relations between the local “bubbas” and the Asian immigrants, never good, have deteriorated along with the country’s economy. One hot Saturday, Deputy Sheriff Tom Poole answers a routine call to this simmering area. An old Vietnamese fisherman has been found dead.
Poole is a burnt-out case. His career is going nowhere and he scarcely cares. His wife has left him. His life seems as desolate as the countryside around him. But the sheriff is quick to write off the case as a suicide, and to his own surprise, this enrages Poole, who is convinced that the man was murdered. He determines not to allow the old man’s death to be ignored, an impulse that leads him into danger, calls on forces he’d forgotten he had, and brings his life back into vivid focus.
"Tom Poole is a fine character, slouching clear-eyed into evil knowing that it’s going to hurt."
George V. Higgins
Author of The Friends of Eddie Coyle
"Dold makes all this read like nobody has ever written it before. A ragged, raw poetry keeps these pages turning. Anyone expecting just another mystery from Bay of Sorrows will get the same surprise."
The Washington Post Book World
"A literary work of considerable merit, a work that leaves a lasting impression and absorbs the reader fully."
The Kansas City Star
Crime stories about angst-ridden antiheroes in rural settings may be commonplace, but little is ordinary or hackneyed in this story about a deputy sheriff on the Texas Gulf coast. The locale is palpable, exotic and painstakingly evoked. The action, sometimes dragging tortuously through the heat and humidity, fits the setting. Tom Poole works the area around Port Arthur, keeping the peace between the ``bubbas'' and the immigrant Vietnamese, both groups scrambling to extract a living from the dwindling shrimp industry. An old Vietnamese fisherman with two daughters and two drugged-out sons-in-law is found dead in his shack, the gunshot wound behind his ear inflicted by an expensive new handgun. Poole-sad, divorced and a Vietnam veteran-doesn't believe the old guy shot himself, but his bullying boss does, and takes him off the case. The deputy, livid, keeps on investigating, partly out of war-related guilt and partly to befriend Adrienne, an older woman with a terminally ill husband who has sparked Poole's belief that if his salvation exists anywhere, it is in her arms, in a cottage on the beach along the hot, blighted coastland. Poole finds drug activity, more death and more reason to go on. Dold's (Rude Boys) lyrical and stylized prose is of a quality rarely encountered in any genre.