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The Devil All the Time - Donald Ray Pollock

Don’t read this book if you are depressed or need some kind of feel good story.  This is full of murder, rape, and generally depressing stuff.  And yet, it one of those novels that you want to know what is going to happen next. 


Holy crap, these are some sick individuals in this novel.   There are Sandy and Carl who pick up hitchhiking men specifically to torture and murder.  And take pictures of themselves doing it.  For other characters, it is a wonderful depiction of religious fervor taken to extremes.  Willard Russell spends months offering blood sacrifices at his outdoor prayer log to entice God to heal his wife of cancer.  He forces his 10 year old son, Arvin, to join him in long prayer sessions at the prayer log, surrounded by the rotting corpses of the sacrificed animals.  Roy Lafferty, a lay preacher, believes God has told him that he now has the gift of resurrection.  Theodore, Roy’s crippled cousin, demands proof of this new power.  Theodore is jealous of Roy’s wife so he suggests that Roy should resurrect her.  Roy agrees to kill and then resurrect his wife to show his cousin that the power of God is on him.   And shockingly, Roy’s power does not manifest itself as he believed it would.


Then there is Preston Teagarden who is forced to become the temporary preacher of a small church, and he is definitely not a man of god.  He loves to seduce young women, enjoying it most when they read from the Bible as he screws them.  Preston can’t wait to seduce Lenora, the 16 year old daughter Roy Lafferty left behind as a baby after he murdered his wife and took off.  Lenora is the ultimate pious Christian and that is exactly the type of young woman Preston enjoys deflowering. 


One of the things I liked best about this book is

that the evil that is done does not go unpunished.  I have a hard time when the bad people in books get away unscathed.  Not here.  And it is true that some of the murders committed are not done with an evil intent; they just have to happen.  At last there is someone to root for instead of against toward the end which felt almost like a breath of fresh air.

(show spoiler)

  Donald Ray Pollock sure can write, but I gotta say though that I felt almost dirty at times listening to this.  I need something nice to read now.