Photo by Steve V. used under a Creative Commons license.
Tom Drury, The Black Brook (Mariner Books, 2000).
A crowded, offbeat, dark novel. Offbeat and mundane characters appear and sometimes reappear, but the story is that of Paul Nash, a native son of Rhode Island and former mob accountant, now known as Paul Emmons through the graces of the Witness Protection Service. Stays in Spokane and Belgium do not last, and Nash, a sort of anti-hero, finds himself working for a newspaper in Ashland, Connecticut, a fictional manufacturing town (The Former Match Capital of the World) perhaps not unlike Danbury, where Drury once worked for a newspaper. The plot has too many threads — a disappearing stream, an affair, a ghost, forged paintings, and more — to summarize nicely, and yet the novel is propelled less by its plot(s) than by Drury’s voice.
Google BookSearch offers a preview and more. Here is the first chapter. Wikipedia has this bio of Drury. Luc Sante (The New York Times) calls it a novel of deadpan whimsy. Daniel Handler (a/k/a Lemony Snicket) says it’s one of his favorite novels on Earth. Here is an interview with Drury, after the release of his third novel (Hunts in Dreams).