Reviewed by Chris F. Holm
I’ll tell you right now: “In Some Countries” ain’t gonna be for everyone. It’s a bleak, gruesome tale, rife with violence toward animals, and told in prose so plain it doesn’t give you the luxury of hiding behind euphemism or suggestion. Come to think of it, this story may not have been for me. But then, much like Raine’s protagonist Woody Granger discovers, I may not be cut out for life in the wilds of old-time Tennessee.
Woody Granger is an orphan, sixteen years of age, who finds himself employed as a farm hand for the mercurial Harold Cutter. Harold Cutter raises – and, of course, slaughters – sheep, the latter task proving problematic for the young man in his employ. It seems he doesn’t have the stomach for it, and I can’t blame him; Raine’s description of the act is unflinching, a choice the writer in me finds artistically appropriate, even if reader-me reacted with revulsion. But when Cutter’s teenage daughter flashes Woody a bit of skin and suggests she’ll show him more if he kills a sheep for her, Woody’s hormone-addled mind is predictably set spinning, and even the most casual fan of noir is sure to guess the decision on which it finally settles doesn’t lead to a good end.
If you’re looking for a slightly gritty tale of Wild West derring-do, “In Some Countries” ain’t it. But if you’ve got the stomach for a brutal tale of psychosexual dysfunction and suspense, then you’re in luck. If you are up for it, though, here’s a little advice from me to you: I wouldn’t plan on lamb for dinner.