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Set a novel during a Mississippi dry spell and sooner or later people will start killing each other. Williams’ dark, violent book, Final Heat, takes place in Rockton, a wasted county ruled by the three sisters of Southern-fried fiction: Heat, Lust, and Rage. At the center of the novel are the ill-matched lovers Snake Ripley and Truly Crawford. The couple’s plan to get out of Rockton alive quickly spins out of control, sparking a frenzied series of events that ends with an angry mob stalking them through the woods. Williams is a gritty, evocative writer. At times, however, his novel overheats: Houses stink of death; characters weep for a lost world; a hawk and a Doberman are trotted out for symbolic purposes, and the book starts to sound a bit too much like Revelations. It must be said, though, that Williams puts his mythical county squarely on the map, staking out a memorable little hell on earth: ”She was sure the Devil was living in Rockton, that he had spread his dark wings over the entire town.” B+

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