And now for something completely different. This book arrived in the post a few weeks ago, unsolicited and unheralded, and I was a little perplexed at first because it’s so very unlike anything that I normally read. On the other hand, I am not the kind of girl to turn down a free book and so I dutifully plunged in. It has been a strange experience. Lyrical but not poetic, violent yet gentle, it’s the kind of book you can’t quite shake off. Its mood clings to you like the scent of the diner in its pages, or like the thick, draining heat that blankets the Texan prairie on which the story unfolds.