Days Of Atonement
Copyright 1992 by
Walter Jon Williams
I most recently read this on the 28th August 2002.
Loren Hawn is the police chief of the small town Atocha, New Mexico, population
10,000 and 41 churches.
Sadly, Atocha is dying. It was a company town, a mining town. Now the mine is being
closed, local men will lose their jobs, the businesses that fed on the miners income will
struggle to survive. The only major company in the town, ATL, is a high-technology,
highly secure modern industry and few of its employees are town folk.
With forty-one churches Atocha is a religious town. Hawn himself takes his religion
seriously. The Holy Church of the Apostles of Elohim is an offshoot of the Mormons
and this week will celebrate the seven Days Of Atonement, one for each of the seven
deadly sins. Loren has a lot of sins, and these seven days will see his behaviour and
beliefs challenged by his family, his friends and reality itself.
When a dying man comes into Hawn's office and begs for help, and when his car belongs
to staff at ATL, and when ATL security staff seem to be blocking the murder investigation.
Loren knows he has problems. But these are incidental, Loren's problem is much worse:
he knows who the dying man is, and knows that he died many, many years ago.
A superbly atmospheric delineation of small town America with a powerful cast of
characters. Williams has created a magnetic, flawed hero in Loren Hawn, selfish,
corrupt and arrogant, but clever and very, very good at his job. All this in an
stimulating mix of good ole' boys and high energy physics proves to me that Williams
really is a very good writer. I'm also rather astonished that he's so flexible -
compare this with his good, but very different, "Metropolitan" and "City On Fire".
Loaded on the 24th September 2002.