ABOUT THIN SLICE OF LIFE
Charlie Sweetwater comes from generations of fishermen and shrimpers on the Gulf Coastal Bend of the Texas coast. It’s in his blood, but blood has turned bad and Charlie is living the vagabond’s life in Mexico. Upon receiving a mysterious and enticing message from his brother Johnny, however, Charlie points his pickup towards Texas and home. But Johnny is a no-show when Charlie arrives at his hometown of Fulton. The Coast Guard has discovered Johnny’s shrimp boat drifting abandoned in the Gulf. Is it “death by misadventure” as the authorities presume, or something more sinister? What had Johnny been trying to communicate to his estranged brother?
Meanwhile, Fulton Harbor, where Charlie’s family has docked their shrimp boats for generations, has changed—and not for the better. Hard-working newly-arrived Vietnamese immigrant fishermen are under the thumb of Col. Nguyen Ngoc Bao, a ruthless exiled gangster who aims to recreate his Asian criminal enterprise in a New World setting.
Confronting Bao and his thugs are Charlie and a mismatched group of good guys (and gals): a fast-and-loose Cajun hustler, a salty cast of “Third Coast” barroom regulars, a handful of courageous Vietnamese émigrés, a menacing ex-convict, and a misplaced Texas Ranger who discovers a slice of the Lone Star State that the cowboy movies of his boyhood never prepared him for.
Along the way, Charlie finds himself falling for his brother’s girlfriend, whose zealous desire to see justice served tests his own limits for loyalty and commitment. Unlikely heroes arise from improbable circumstances, and the denizens of the small seaside community find their fortunes and fates ebbing and flowing like the tidal flux of the ocean itself.
Suddenly, the Sweetwaters’ thin slice of life on the Texas Gulf Coast has never seemed so tenuous, or so perilous.
THIN SLICE OF LIFE
WINNER WRITERS’ LEAGUE OF TEXAS AWARD BEST MYSTERY MANUSCRIPT
“An engaging crime caper. This book hits the mark.”
—Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2012
“The story is involving, exciting. It would make a good film...seamlessly plotted and beautifully told.”
—Lubbock Avalanch Journal, 2013
“Texas coastal fishermen who read fiction, especially the Carl Hiaasen genre, may well be entertained by a new book published by Texas A&M consortium. The action is strictly coastal from Matagorda Island down to the Land Cut, below Baffin Bay. It’s centered around Rockport/Fulton's shrimpboat fleet, but the chase scenes, shootouts, bar fights, general ass-whuppings, a major hurricane, fishing, shrimping, cussing and drinking happen in locations very familiar to Texas saltwater anglers.”
—Captain Joe Richard, Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, January 2013
“The big difference between this and other thrillers is the telling. Rather than a slick commercial page-turner, this book is an original, one-of-a-kind, locally grown, artisanal, take-your-time work of imagination.”
—Girlfriends Book Club, December 15, 2012
“Three Texas writers have pooled their talents and produced a very readable and entertaining first novel.”
—San Angelo Standard Times, October 25, 2012
“In the Rockport-set novel, readers get a taste of mystery, humor, and Texas salt water as they follow a variety of characters on both sides of the law.”
—Corpus Christi Caller Times, October 17, 2012
“KUT NPR’s Emily Donahue recently interviewed Brent Douglass and John T. Davis about how their storytelling alter ego Miles Arceneaux came to be.”
—KUT Interview, October 1, 2012KAZI Book Review contributor Tim Chamberlain recently interviewed John T. Davis and Brent Douglass, two of the three Texas based writers that make up their alter ego Miles Arceneaux.
—KAZI Interview, September 30, 2012
“I have read Thin Slice of Life, with growing pleasure. If the Texas Institute of Letters had a Melodrama Award these guys would win. We have the average guy, Charlie, who rises to revenge and just keeps rising; the young orphan; the sidekick; the Texas Ranger; and the sinister Asian villain.
What animates this story is what we used to call verisimilitude: These people know all about boats and engines and tides and gears and such, just as Louis L'Amour knows every weapon his character carries. It is an interesting story and full of life along the Coast.”
—Marshall Terry, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English (SMU); 2012 Literati Award Recipient
The book’s title is a line from Guy Clark’s song “South Coast of Texas:” “The south coast of Texas, that’s a hard slice of life. It’s salty and hard. It’s as stern as a knife.”
—My San Antonio, September 21, 2012“
The best stories are ones you do not want to stop reading. When the time comes to go to sleep, or meet a friend, or leave for work, the reader counters with, “Just one more chapter.”
“Thin Slice of Life,” a novel by Miles Arceneaux, is that sort of story, a salt water-flavored mystery set on the Texas coast.”
—Lubbock Avalanche Journal, September 16, 2012
“[One of the] new books with local ties to warm you up as autumn approaches.”
—Austin Monthly, September 2012
“Smart, funny and tough...brims with insight...The best suspense novel I’ve read since Cormac What’s-His-Name.”
—Kinky Friedman, Governor of the Heart of Texas
One of the hallmarks of an excellent mystery novel—which A Thin Slice of Life most definitely is—is a memorable sense of place. If Dashiell Hammett had grown up on the Texas Gulf Coast, in a fishing shack on some nameless spoil island along the Laguna Madre—well, I’m not sure what would have happened.
But back to Miles Arceneaux: he has written his own classic, a surf and turf romp steeped in a salt-air atmosphere that just can’t be faked.
“A great romp with a bunch of true-to-life coastal characters. The plot is almost as outrageous as reality down there. You can smell the Gulf of Mexico when you open the book.”
—Marcia Ball“A sizzler hotter than a Texas July!”