North of Wichita, Kansas, an ordinary field sits beside a narrow dirt road. An unknown, and perhaps unidentifiable, body lies there, the apparent victim - and the first in several years - of a local serial murderer. In James Preston Girard's deceptively spare yet thoroughly harrowing novel, this ugly death will draw to it three intriguing and sympathetic characters, each determined - and, we come to feel, fated - to resolve this brutal mystery. They are L. J. Loomis, a resourceful and honest detective whose life has already been soured by his pursuit of the unknown killer Stosh Babicki, an earnest young reporter trapped in a relationship that threatens her own integrity and the title character, Sam Haun, the night-desk man on the local paper, a man beset by grief and memory. What begins for them as an exercise of solemn procedure and by-the-book detection is transformed into a totally disorienting tale of uncertainty and fear, in which no fact and no one - whether in the glare of day on the Great Plains or the shadows of midnight - can be relied on or trusted. Already hailed by his fellow writers, James Preston Girard's The Late Man is a stunningly original and unnerving novel of suspense.
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