Books

Book Review: The Devil’s Country

Harry Hunsicker's seventh novel offers broad strokes of plot and fine details.

Harry Hunsicker’s seventh novel features a rogues gallery of prototypical Texan bad guys, from religious cult leaders and corrupt small-town cops to hillbilly Nazis and greedy bankers in gleaming downtown Dallas high-rises. It’s a testament to Hunsicker’s skill with pacing that I didn’t realize quite how complicated The Devil’s Country was until I typed that sentence. He knows how to boil a frog—in this case, Arlo Baines, his former Texas Ranger turned drifter hero, propelled forward, and occasionally clawed back, by the ghosts of his past. An impulsive decision to help a woman in a bar eventually ensnares him in the machinations of a multinational crime ring. I didn’t even mention the Russians! But it takes its time getting there. Set mostly in the fictional West Texas town of Piedra Springs, The Devil’s Country stands apart not just in Hunsicker’s broad strokes of plot but also (and most notably) in its fine details, the lived-in specificity that grounds the whole story in real-world plausibility. (Hunsicker will appear at a book launch party at The Wild Detectives, 314 W. Eighth St., April 12 at 7 pm.)

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