Go to Homepage   Sallie Bissell: Call the Devil by His Oldest Name


Crescent Blues Book ViewsBantam Dell (Paperback), ISBN 0553584944

Redneck sheriff Stump Logan died long ago, or so the FBI believes. But Atlanta District Attorney Mary Crow keeps seeing him -- once in her own front yard. She believes Logan killed her parents and wants to kill her too, but she doesn't know why.

Book: sallie bissell, call the devil by his oldest name
Logan lives, indeed, and plans to murder Mary. Just shooting her dead through the window of her house wouldn't make much of a plot, so he conceives an elaborate and convoluted plan to trap her and drop her into a bottomless pit. He kidnaps Mary's godchild and sends tantalizing digital pictures of the baby to Mary's camera-equipped cell phone. Accompanied by Ruth, the child's Cherokee mother, and Gabriel, a sympathetic friend, Mary follows the trail Logan lays down with the pictures.

The cops express profound indifference in the plight of the kidnapped baby, and even less interest in Mary's belief that the allegedly dead Logan is the perpetrator. This leaves Mary and Ruth free to do all kinds of stupid things with no interference from law enforcement.

Side stories abound. Logan works for a cruel and avaricious woman who runs a black market baby operation. A couple of illegal Mexicans on the run from a shadowy gang called the Scorpions unwillingly assist Logan with his plan. Ruth's husband is Mary's first love. Mary finds Gabriel attractive and contemplates a romance. The back story -- the source of Logan's rage -- remains hidden until the end.

I admit that the story kept me turning the pages, out of concern for the baby's fate if nothing else. But the premise perplexed me. Why would it be easier for Logan to abduct Mary while on the road, after leading her on a wild baby chase, than from her own garden or some other location she frequented? Could he reasonably expect her to grasp and follow the cryptic clues he sent? Since everyone believes him dead, he could easily get away with a quick execution-style murder. But then no tortuous plot could unfold.

A final surprise twist at the end of the novel made just as little sense and will probably offend the sensibilities of Native American readers. It certainly offended mine.

Two earlier suspense novels starred Mary Crow. Call the Devil by His Oldest Name ties up the loose ends they left. I only hope that Bissell either ends at the trilogy here or finds a more believable way to get Mary into trouble next time.

Jodi Forschmiedt

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Click here to read Ceridwen Lewin's review of Call the Devil by His Oldest Name.