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The Maid's Version review

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THE HELP Author Daniel Woodrell's The Maid's Version is full of sensational writing and compelling characters

The Maid's Version

Current Status:
In Season
Daniel Woodrell
Little, Brown and Company

We gave it an A

At a slim 164 pages, it’s tempting to call this tale, The Maid’s Version, of a deadly dance-hall explosion in West Table, Mo., in 1929 a novella — until you read the first dense, dazzling paragraph. It’s almost as if Woodrell, the master of celebrated Ozark-gothic reveries like Winter’s Bone, writes his sentences in clotted cream, where other authors work in skim milk. In just a few curlicued lines, dozens of West Table’s citizens — bankers and derelicts, brimstone preachers and good-time girls — are brought vividly to life. (Some of them are among the 42 victims of the blast; others might be the cause of it.) Maid’s is a whodunit, but really it’s the who and not the dun that stays with you: Characters are drawn with such skill and sympathy that every fate resonates. A