Assumption by Percival Everett (2011)
In three loosely connected stories, a sheriff’s deputy investigates a series of crimes in a small desert town that disrupts his little remaining faith in humanity.
Here is a book that kept me thinking — almost obsessing — about it long after I had closed the covers. The title is Assumption, and in these stories, the characters’ assumptions keep getting proved wrong, leading the reader to finally question his/her own assumptions.
The main character, Deputy Sheriff Ogden Walker, is a bit inept at his job and feels lonely and disconnected as the only black man in a tiny town in the New Mexico desert. The novel provides a terrific sense of character; we too know that there’s something wrong in Walker’s life, but like Walker, we can’t quite put our finger on the trouble as we bumble along with him through his cases. The desert setting, used to great effect, amplifies Walker’s sense of isolation and disconnect. And then the author pulls the rug out from under us.
It’s a clever novel, something new and different for crime readers, and definitely a candidate for a future reread.