Continuing my exploration of this thick volume full of lovely murders, Bill Pronzini, a superb writer, with a book on my Best 100 Mysteries list, wrote a lyrical love note to the railroad. Pronzini has edited short stories himself, and is the author of the two wonderful Gun In Cheek books about the worst in crime fiction–or best, depending on how you define it. He and his wife, Marcia Muller, are responsible for a huge catalog of quality work. So I wasn’t surprised to find him within the pages, not once, but several times, alone, or with a writing partner. Sweet Fever is narrated by an old man who describes he and his grandson’s love of watching the train come through the tunnel at Chigger Mountain.
“The moon was so bright you could see the melons lying in Feride Johnson’s patch over on the left, and the rail tracks had a sleek oiled look coming out of the tunnel mouth and leading off towards the Sabreville yards a mile up the line. On the far side of the tracks, the woods and the run-down shacks that used to be a hobo jungle before the country sheriff closed it off thirty years back had them a silvery cast, like they was all coated in winter frost.”