By Troy Patterson
Updated June 21, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

The first novel from Biguenet, an award-winning short story writer, is set in 1950s bayou country — a tin realm where depths are often ”murky” and gothic twists predictable. Desperate to protect their dwindling shellfish business, the Petitjeans arrange for their 18-year-old daughter to marry a 52-year-old sleaze. She instead kills him, touching off a series of murders, confessions, transparent schemes, and thin ruminations on guilt and grief. The novel is heavy with dialogue; the dialogue is simply heavy. And before justice is done, many threats will be delivered with much local color: ”’I’ll break you into so many pieces they’ll use you to bait crab nets.”’ C

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