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Assumption: A Novel by Percival Everett
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Assumption: A Novel (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Percival Everett (Author)

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16820163,579 (3.65)38
"In the sleepy New Mexico backwater of Plata, Deputy Sheriff Ogden Walker spends his time humoring his portly boss, chasing vandals, and fly-fishing. But when a woman is murdered under strange circumstances, his life takes a turn for the worse. Over three disturbing cases, Walker scours the seedy underbelly of Denver, a ragtag hippie commune, and a fish hatchery. He is on the search for solutions to the questions he is foolish enough to ask. The answers, when they do come, are not the ones anyone expected"--Page [4] of cover.… (more)
Member:Jonathan5
Title:Assumption: A Novel
Authors:Percival Everett (Author)
Info:Graywolf Press (2011), 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:percival-everett

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Assumption by Percival Everett (2011)

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Ogden Walker is a deputy sheriff in New Mexico. He isn’t a detective but he is often involved in the process of investigating crimes, and here, that usually means murder. We see Ogden in a number of largely unsatisfactory investigations over the course of a few year. Unsatisfactory in that they rarely lead to closure for him or for us. His last case is especially unsatisfactory in that it looks like we don’t seem to know Ogden at all despite all this time we’ve spent with him. Perhaps we are having our assumptions disabused as the title might suggest. But given that this is a Percival Everett novel, there is almost certainly something else going on.

Everett’s writing is never less than compelling. No matter which genre he turns his hand to, he both captures its essence and finds something new. I enjoyed following Ogden’s quixotic investigations. There was something sad and wistful about him and his colleague Warren. So perhaps I was especially ripe for having the rug pulled from under my feet in that final section. It’s hard to know what to make of that.

Always worthy of recommendation, but be warned, there is a sting in the tail. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Dec 21, 2023 |
Assumption is a one wild ride of a literary thriller/mystery novel. That last page is a real stunner! No spoilers here. Let's just say that the ending is truly shocking.

Comprised essentially of three novellas within one novel, Assumption follows follows Ogden Walker, a deputy sheriff, and misfit, fly fishing loner, through three criminal cases that emerge in a small town in New Mexico. In the first, a trigger-happy old woman is found murdered shortly after Ogden confiscates her gun. The situation at the outset feels sort of like a reverse “locked room” mystery, as the blanket of snow around the woman’s residence reveals only one set of footprints—Ogden’s—while she appears to have vanished into thin air. Later, she’s found dead beneath a trapdoor in her floor.

In the next story, a woman shows up who says she’s from Ireland and trying to track down a female cousin in the area. Ogden is tasked with helping her find this “missing” relation. In the course of asking around, the two of them stumble across a fatally wounded woman, an event which eventually sets Ogden on the trail of a one-handed man who he suspects of killing prostitutes.

The last story involves investigating some meth heads and leads to some shocking revelations.

The ending plays with your assumptions. Everett carefully plants the seeds, the clues, among the seeming conventions (you might call them cliches) of his detective novel. Pay attention to Ogden Walker as you read this novel. Sure he is a loner. But do other things seem off? Ultimately, readers come to suspect that perhaps Ogden doesn’t know himself and that neither do those with whom he works and lives.

This was a masterfully written detective novel written in a manner that reminded me of a cross between Flannery O'Connor, Elmore Leonard, and James M. Cain. The prose is dry and often witty and there are clues scattered throughout. Everett summons his New Mexico Noir environment in spare, dry prose that harks back to hard-boiled predecessors like James M. Cain. Not many writers can lay claim to be considered on par with such writing legends.

I'm eager to re-read this book again, so I can follow the clues and spot all the things that didn't add up. ( )
  ryantlaferney87 | Dec 8, 2023 |
I was eager to support an LA writer writing about New Mexico. Unfortunately, the writing is cliche ridden and the style is often a some combination of awkward or lazy. I learned a little about what I don't want to do in my own work, but ultimately I didn't find this book worth finishing. ( )
  ProfH | Sep 22, 2023 |
Rating : 3.5

Having read two of his latest stories of which both would be considered literature, I was ill prepared for a story about a small town Sheriff in NM.

As a USC professor of Literature and prolific black author, the only consistency with all three are black central characters which shows Everett loves genre variety. Here we are introduced to Sheriff Ogden who discovers a murder by mistake. Playing detective, clues begin to surface leading him down a twisted path. Unlike most mysteries, he chooses to leave the reader hanging and move on to another one.

What's interesting in this short novel is the variety of crimes, locations and characters demonstrating a somewhat offbeat approach to the genre. That said, the best twist comes in the final pages so you'll need to read it, if you enjoy this sort of story.

While mysteries aren't my first choice, great characters and plot matter and it's difficult to deny both are obvious here. Overall it's well paced, engaging and different but by no means stellar. Regardless I'll continue my journey with his stories since he's one of the more talented authors I've encountered. ( )
  Jonathan5 | Feb 20, 2023 |
I truly didn’t see it coming. ( )
  Phyllis.Mann | Mar 18, 2020 |
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Dusk came on and the pinacate bugs were out of their holes and trudging along the wash.
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"In the sleepy New Mexico backwater of Plata, Deputy Sheriff Ogden Walker spends his time humoring his portly boss, chasing vandals, and fly-fishing. But when a woman is murdered under strange circumstances, his life takes a turn for the worse. Over three disturbing cases, Walker scours the seedy underbelly of Denver, a ragtag hippie commune, and a fish hatchery. He is on the search for solutions to the questions he is foolish enough to ask. The answers, when they do come, are not the ones anyone expected"--Page [4] of cover.

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"Ogden Walker, deputy sheriff of a small New Mexico town, is on the trail of an old woman's murderer.  But at the crime scene, his are the only footprints leading up to and away from her door.  Something is amiss, and even his mother knows it.  As other cases pile up, Ogden gives chase, pursuing flimsy leads for even flimsier reasons.  Ogden't hunt leads him from the seamier side of Denver to a hippie commune as he seeks the puzzling solution.  [...]A wild ride to the heart of a baffling mystery, Assumption is a literary thriller like no other."
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