Megan Harlan
August 16, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Heaven of Mercury

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Brad Watson
publisher
W.W. Norton
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B+

Watson’s quirky first novel is set in Mercury, Miss., a fictional small town with a dark and steamy Southern gothic atmosphere. Finus Bates, gentlemanly octogenarian and radio host, long ago married the best friend of the girl he really wanted — the angelic Birdie. The narrative swoops sinuously in and around their decades-long almost-love affair as it recounts the murder mystery of Birdie’s philandering husband, which involves — with typical deadpan humor — a necrophiliac mortician, a forest-dwelling witch, and a government-testing conspiracy. While Watson’s prose sometimes runs riot with overripe lyricism, his gimcrack storytelling is grounded by generous humanity.

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