Stephen Graham Jones explores the tragic magic of storms and serial killers in his hardcore crime novel, All the Beautiful Sinners.
Following the destructive path of tornadoes across the American Southwest, a sadistic serial killer plucks children out of their homes into thin air, sucking them into the eye of his apprenticeship to be the next generation of psychopaths that carry on his legacy.
Pursued by Deputy Sheriff Jim Doe across the path of tornado valley, the killer leaves a trail of bloody evidence that leads Doe ever closer to the realization that he is intimately involved with the murders.
Steeped in urban legend and modern mythology, All the Beautiful Sinners is a triumphant smorgasbord of desperation and destitution, where a serial killer seeks to create his legacy out of the offspring of those lost to the storms.
Stephen Graham Jones strength is his use of language and metaphor to twist sentences into steely slices that penetrate your skin and leave scars long after you’ve closed the pages.
Both complicated in its design and simplistic in its intention, Jones’ sinister novel details the path towards atonement we all must seek, regardless of our past sins or triumphs.
A passage from All the Beautiful Sinners:
The moon was shot through with the small bodies of blind sparrows.
Behind her, the boy looked to the girl. To Marlene. Marly. She was smiling, the soldering wire molded into her lips, the flesh of her cheek, the one dimple pulled through with a piece of thread, tied to her second molar. The scissors used to cut the thread would show up in a trashcan back at the campsite. Along with an empty can of the sealant used on her face. They would be in a stratum that would get labeled March 15th. There would be no prints on her, though, not in the shellac around her arms, where she’d been lifted, placed, not on her own fingertips, even.
The boy shook his head no at Marlene, no no no, but then when he stood to run it was into a denim shirt. Far above, a brown hat.
The girl looked around slow.
‘Father,’ she said. ‘Look what we found.’
‘Yes,’ her father said. ‘Good, good.’
The boy looked up at Him and hugged himself into a ball, still shaking his head no, and his father carried him back to the road like that, the girl trailing behind, holding the fingers of one hand in the other, behind her back, her smile fixed like the children’s had been, her eyes glazed with wonder.
All the Beautiful Sinners by Stephen Graham Jones is a journey into the violence of the American frontier, along all of the winding trails it entails, where children are lost to the howling wind and the memories of our past entwine with the dreams of our present.