Book Review: 'Assumption'

Assumption is a new novel from Percival Everett. A distinguished academic in the field of literature, Everett is also an accomplished writer of fiction.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now, our review of a novel by the writer Percival Everett. His books don't fit into any one category. He's taken on topics from baseball to Greek myths.

His latest is a crime novel but it toys with that genre, as we hear from critic Alan Cheuse.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: The new book is called "Assumption." It's a crime novel that toys with the genre. It's made up of three sections, with each one overturning its opening premise and taking us out into deeper waters.

The main character is a black New Mexican sheriff's deputy named Ogden Walker. We meet Walker just before the murder of a solitary old woman takes place in a small house on the edge of the desert. Walker pursues the case, which leads him into a strangely convoluted situation that involves the dead woman's seemingly flirtatious daughter, white supremacists, some unsettling tactics by federal agents, and ends in an oddly balletic shoot-out.

The second section finds Walker heading off in search of a missing tourist, and a killer with one hand. Sounds like you got yourself a mystery, says a Denver police detective. Indeed, he does. A mystery that deepens in the third section, when Walker himself begins to fear he may be hallucinating a large part of a new case, the murder of a New Mexico Fish and Game officer - maybe.

All we can do is hang on and go along for the intellectually stimulating and genre-bending ride, in which bodies and assumptions fall quickly by the wayside.

BLOCK: "Assumption" is the latest novel from Percival Everett. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

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