Friday, July 30, 2010


By Charles Willeford

Charles Willeford was the king of Florida noir. He wrote taut novels of odd loners who just couldn’t stay alone and draw others to their ruin.

Sam Springer is a dry-as-dust accountant who decides he’s a writer because he sold a novel. Broke and in search of new material to write about he visits a monastery in the Florida backwoods. The abbot and sole occupant is a career soldier who’s forgotten more about doing nothing while getting paid than most men ever learn. He helps Springer skip out on his wife and life by dispatching him to be pastor of an all-Black church in Jacksonville. But preaching actually takes some work and Jax is in the throes of a civil rights conflict. Rev. Deuteronomy Springer is a long way from a saint and so is Merita, the very beautiful wife of one of his deacons.

Black Mass
is a sardonic send-up of bigots, zealots, preachers, and believers. Even more than that it is a story about how wanting is quite different from having. If you like good, dark comedy, you should want to read this one. Having done so will be satisfying.

-Dave Hardy

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