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As this tale opens, Turner, ex-cop, ex-con, and ex-psychotherapist, remains on the lam in rural Cypress Grove, Tennessee, escaping the demons of past lives in Memphis, but he is starting to mend. There's a developing relationship with Val Bjorn, teacher and country musician; there's the appearance of his daughter from Seattle; and there's the fact that he has come out of hibernation to accept the job as deputy sheriff of Cypress Grove. Then his boss, the kindly sheriff, is assaulted by a gang of mobbed-up toughs in the act of breaking one of their own out of the small-town jail. Turner pursues the thugs to Memphis, confronting his past and giving vent to his suppressed blood lust. Every action prompts a reaction, however, and soon the thugs return to Cypress Grove looking for some blood of their own. Sallis tells the violent tale quietly, effectively using jump cuts, flashbacks, and flashforwards to generate both suspense and, simultaneously, a sense of inevitability.

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