Oyster by John Biguenet. Review by Kris Harding (warning: some spoilers)
This nicely done tale of feuding oyster fishing families in 1951 Louisiana delineates both a time and a place. The petroleum industry’s impact on the environment is making life harder for the oyster fishermen. When the cash-poor Petitjean family needs a loan, they make a deal with “Horse” Bruneau to marry their daughter Therese and consolidate their oyster leases. But Therese is no Juliet to his Romeo; instead she lures the man to his death in the first chapter of the book. When his body is found among a trawler’s nets, no one suspects a mere girl. Her act of desperation escalates the family feud and more death follows.
In the subsequent police investigation family secrets long-held will be revealed. A good nourishing mystery story with fascinating details about life along the coast and the oyster business.
Loyola professor Biguenet is also a playwright who was named Theatre Person of the Year by the Big Easy Entertainment Awards. His play about Katrina, Rising Water also won Best Original Play of 2007. His fiction and essays have appeared in Esquire, Granta, Playboy, Story, and Zoetrope and his short story collection, The Torturer’s Apprentice, won an O.Henry award. Oyster was his first novel.