THE HEAVEN OF MERCURY
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.