Book of the Day



By James Sallis

ISBN 978-1632864529
Publication Date: June 21, 2016

Buy it here!


Review by Clay Stafford

In the town of Willnot, there is a clearing where two dead bodies are found buried atop a box of decaying papers. Dr. Lamar Hale, the town’s doctor, is brought into the case being investigated by the local authorities. Concurrently, a stranger comes to town in the form of Bobby Lowndes, a discharged sniper for the military who grew up in the town many years ago, but is not the same man. He is followed by an FBI agent and another sniper who has a reason for wanting Bobby to go away. As Dr. Hale goes through the ups and downs of his professional and personal life, his partner Richard is shot by a bullet meant for Bobby Lowndes. It is up to Hale to find equilibrium, not only for the town, but also for himself.

The simple plot is a primarily a character-driven story. The mystery and questions are there, but the storyline is mostly the arcing perspective of the main character, Dr. Lamar Hale. Written in a literary style, Willnot is a book to be read slowly to savor the language, which is near poetic. I was especially awed by the attention to slight details sprinkled just enough within each paragraph. The dialogue is a double entendre of sorts, highlighting the inner turmoils, growth, and regressions of the complex characters. You’re not going to find a whodunit mystery here for the mystery of Willnot is the mystery of life revealed through the MacGuffin of the initial two dead bodies, the FBI agent, and the two snipers. I usually read novels quickly, but this one I did not: the prose is something to savor. It is a novel that you’ll reflect on after reading it, trying to make sense (like Hale) of the little strands of truth hidden in the normal course of the daily mundane. It is a book I would highly recommend.

Clay Stafford is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and filmmaker. He has sold over 1.5 million hardcover copies of his children’s adaptations and has seen his film work distributed internationally in over 14 languages. Four of his five staged murder mysteries have had Los Angeles premieres. He has reviewed books, plays, and films, writes near-daily book reviews for the Killer Nashville Book of the Day, has been quoted on book jackets, and has edited several PBS companion books associated with national series. Publishers Weekly has named Stafford one of the top 10 Nashville literary leaders playing “an essential role in defining which books become bestsellers” not only in middle-Tennessee, but also extending “beyond the city limits and into the nation’s book culture.” (PW 6/10/13). He is the founder of Killer Nashville ( and publisher of Killer Nashville Magazine ( He has served on the board of numerous nonprofits. Clay has a B.A. and M.F.A. and has been a professor or lecturer to several major universities. His list of current projects includes the award-winning feature-length documentary “One Of The Miracles: The Inge Meyring Smith Story” ( and the music CD “XO” with fellow mystery writer Jeffery Deaver ( Previously associated with Universal Studios and PBS, he is currently President / CEO of American Blackguard, Inc. (, a publishing/film and television/music / entertainment company near Nashville, Tennessee. More information can be found at