I’ve not read a lot of fiction lately. I used to. There was a time when I sucked down a fair amount of science fiction and historical fiction along with a smattering of aged classics. Sorry’s Run is none of those. It is, however, just about everything else. If pressed to place it under a single heading, I guess I’d call it a mystery. It’s a mystery where learning what was done is at least as much fun as learning who done it. Beneath the book’s central plot is an intriguing layer of occult, a tolerable touch of romance, and frequent and appreciative glimpses of the Ohio River and the country it flows through. It is set in the real world of today although it’s a world whose edges are not always crisply defined.
I know Joani Lacy as a performer. She sings in a band fronted by husband Robin and can cover Patsy Kline as well as anyone I’ve heard. When her first novel was published in 2008, I was interested but not enough to seek it out. It was, after all, fiction and my reading stack was filled with the other stuff. When that first book turned into a trilogy it became a little more intimidating and slipped even farther down the “to read” list. Sorry’s Run is a standalone that got me to experience an author I’d been putting off for years.
I expected skillful writing and was not disappointed. Lacy’s words paint a clear picture of the fictional town of Sorry’s Run as well as provide views of multiple sides of New York City. The story’s main character was born in the small Kentucky town of the title, had a highly successful career in the big city, and gets this story started with a return to her roots. Cultural differences between the two locations are noted but not exploited. Skill is also evident in the pacing. Revelations, whether of some new insight into a character or of some sharp plot twist, seem to occur naturally and some of those twists are really quite sharp.
Even though I more or less expected Lacy’s writing to be skillful, I was impressed. I was even more impressed with her imagination. Skillfully relating a story is one thing; Creating a story worth telling is quite another. Sorry’s Run is a story worth telling. Not because it explains how to cure some disease or answers the question of life but because it’s entertaining. I’ll say no more because being surprised is a big part of enjoying this book. The reader isn’t bombarded with surprises (Pace is, as I said, one of this book’s strong suits.) but there are plenty and they never stop. The very last page both surprised me and made me very happy. That’s a mighty good way to end a book and it was, I think, no accident.
Sorry’s Run, Joani Lacy, iUniverse (April 21, 2016), 9 x 6 inches, 380 pages, ISBN 978-1491792971