Author: Tim Young

Publisher: Harmony Publishing


Tim Young’s novel Poisened Soil reminds me of some of Baldacci’s home-spun Appalachian thrillers. It’s a story about greed, guilt, desperate people, and ethnic justice. It’s a simple story that deals with complex issues.

The prose also seems to be an all-American version of magical realism, that Garcia Marquez / Isabel Allende technique of making reality magical and magic real. (Toni Morrison is another American author using the same technique, which actually started with Kafka.) I won’t go into detail why this is true about Young’s book, but it sets the book above the norm and the bar high for anyone who attempts this.

The spiritual and magical heart of the novel is Angelica, part Cherokee and wife to our tragic protagonist, Blake Savage. He was a star quarterback who suffered a career-ending injury. Denied success on the football field, he becomes greedy and sets out on a campaign to be rich and successful, no matter the cost. He is Faust, not Macbeth. His Devil is his friend, Nick Vegas, the owner of a national chain of restaurants. At first Savage only supplies the restaurants, but Vegas, a Spanish immigrant, sets out to establish some supper clubs based on a product from his homeland. The only problem is that there is no regulation of these clubs, so tainted products can reach the customers’ tables. Savage finds himself drawn deeper into a deadly conspiracy as the days pass.

I apologize if this plot appears trivial—it’s not. It’s my failure as a reviewer. A good writer takes simple events and makes a compelling story. Yes, there is simplicity here, but it’s a profound simplicity. I would have enjoyed a bit more characterization of Vegas, his motives, and his background. Of course, focusing more on him might dilute some of the magic, but I don’t think so. Remember Spain is the land of Don Quijote and evil windmills. Spain always interests me for its magic—tapas, flamenco, paella and other treats, and its lovely people. Nick Vegas is not representative of either group.

There are also elements of mystery and suspense here. The mysterious Ozzie, unwitting avenger for Nature and the Cherokee Nation, is handled well. The author offers enough clues to his identity but there are misdirects too, as in any good mystery. His adventures provide a good back story, and his character is a good complement to the spiritual Angelica. The sheriff and town preacher (he’s both) is also an interesting character. If Angelica represents the New Testament, the sheriff represents the Old, and Ozzie pantheism. All this complements the magical realism present in the novel.

You will enjoy every minute that you’re reading this book—the characters, the settings, the battles between man and nature, and, of course, that magical realism. With all these elements, this still is a thriller, a real page-turner. Moreover, it’s a very original piece of literature that will leave you thinking…and wondering.

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