Boy's Life (novel)

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Boy's Life
Boy's Life novel cover.jpg
Author Robert R. McCammon
Country United States
Language English
Genre Mystery
Publisher Pocket Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 440 (Original Hardcover)
ISBN 978-0-671-74226-3
OCLC 23771248
813/.54 20
LC Class PS3563.C3345 B6 1991

Boy's Life is a 1991 novel by New York Times bestselling author Robert R. McCammon. It received the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1992.[1]

The story is set in the early 1960s and makes observations about changes in America at that time, with particular emphasis on the Civil Rights Movement. Several of the characters are connected to the Ku Klux Klan, and the segregation of the black community is dealt with in some detail.

Plot Summary[edit]

In the novel, Cory Mackenson shares with the reader his experiences in the twelfth year of his life. The year begins when his father attempts to rescue a driver as his car plunges into Saxon's Lake, only to discover the man has been beaten to death. Cory spends the rest of the year, despite multiple distractions, attempting to find out who killed this stranger before his father's dreams drive him into the depths of the lake too. Boy's Life is a story of coming of age in the south, an all too real reality mixed with the magic and fantasy of childhood

Cory gets up early to help his father work his milk route. As they discuss Cory's plans for the future, they drive through their little town of Zephyr, Alabama. When Cory's father begins to drive past Saxon's Lake, they are both shocked when they see a car race across the road in front of them and plunge into the lake. Cory's father dives into the water to rescue the driver only to discover the man has been horribly beaten and strangled. Someone has stripped the dead man naked and handcuffed him to the steering wheel to prevent his body from ever rising to the surface again. Cory and his father rush to the nearest house, which happens to be a brothel managed by a woman named Grace, and call the police. Unfortunately, there is little the police can do without a victim, a name, or a motive.

People talk about the murder for weeks, disturbed that such a thing could happen in their small town. However, with no progress on the legal end of things, people soon forget. Easter comes. Cory and his family attend church with both sets of grandparents. The day is extremely hot and the church is packed. Within moments of the pastor beginning his sermon a nest of wasps become agitated in the attic and wasps begin invading the church. Within moments the entire congregation is rushing for the doors, hoping to escape their horrible stings.

Not long after Easter, Cory's bike dies. Cory goes to retrieve it with his father, but they learn that the junk man has picked it up. At the junk man's house, Cory learns that his bike has already been crushed. However, Cory and his father get to see a tooth that possibly came from the mythic creature that lives in the Tecumseh, Old Moses. Not long after this, rains bring a swelling of water in the river, leading to a flood. The whole town of Zephyr rushes to Bruton to build a temporary dam to hold the waters back. While there, Cory goes to the home of a local woman whose father is having a heart attack. Cory is left alone with a little boy while his mother and the boy's mother move the old man to dry ground. A creature floats into the house and attempts to attack Cory and the boy. Cory manages to fend him off with a broom, shoving it so far in the back of its throat the creature backs off. As a result of his heroics, Cory is invited to visit the Lady, the honorary leader of Bruton, and promised a new bike.

School finally gets out. Cory and his friends rush off to make plans for their summer. When Cory gets home, he discovers that he has received the promised bike from the Lady. The bike is new and has everything a boy could want, including what Cory believes is a golden eye in the headlamp. A few days later, Cory and his friends meet at the baseball field. A new boy in town, Nemo Curliss, watches them toss the ball for a time. Cory invites him to play too. Nemo turns out to have a powerful pitching arm, strong enough to bruise Davy Ray's hand when he catches Nemo's pitch. As they play ball, the Branlins come upon them. The Branlins begin to tease the younger boys as they often do. When the Branlins begin picking on Nemo, Cory and his friends defend him. The Branlins begin to beat the boys, leaving Cory and Davy Ray hurt, but Johnny Wilson with a concussion.

One afternoon at the public pool, Cory hears a new song by a new group called the Beach Boys. Cory is excited by this new song. However, a local preacher is not as impressed. In fact, he has a special church service to lecture the community on the evils of this new music. Cory and his family attend out of curiosity. During the sermon, the preacher pulls out a monkey he calls Lucifer. Lucifer becomes frightened by the crowd and attacks the preacher. Lucifer then attacks the congregation before escaping through the open door.

A short time later, Cory spends a week with his paternal grandparents, Jaybird and Sarah. Cory dislikes his Granddaddy Jaybird because he always wakes him before dawn and makes Cory do some of the harder chores around the farm. On Cory's last day at the farm, Granddaddy Jaybird takes him to the store to buy ice cream salt. However, instead of going home, Granddaddy Jaybird takes Cory to a house where an illegal poker game is going on. Cory waits for several hours outside and finally gives up, deciding to walk home. Finally Cory is picked up by the local doctor who drives him back to the farm.

As a deal with his father to go to Jaybird's, Cory is allowed to go camping alone with two of his friends. The boys walk deep into the woods and settle down for the night. Cory tells a scary story. In the middle of the story, they see a car drive past their campsite. The boys follow the road and find two men waiting in their car. The boys watch as another car drives up and the men transact some kind of business with these new arrivals. Ben becomes covered with spiders and screams out, attracting the attention of the men. The men chase the boys through the woods. Cory is separated from his friends. The following day Cory comes across a girl skinny dipping in a pond. The girl takes him home, cleans his wounds, and arranges for him to get a ride to a phone. Cory wins third prize in a writing contest. The mayor calls and asks Cory to meet him at his office. Once there, Cory sees a hat with a green feather in it and jumps to the conclusion that the mayor is the killer. Cory becomes frightened and runs off. However, the feather on the mayor's hat does not match the one Cory found at Saxon's Lake.

Cory wins a plaque and has to read his story at a ceremony. A few days later, Cory is invited to have dinner with Vernon Thaxter, the son of the local bank owner. Back at school, Johnny brings his collection of arrowheads. After school, the Branlins attempt to steal the arrowheads. Johnny fights Gotha, using the boxing techniques he learned from a book during his long recuperation from his concussion. At the same time, Cory leads Gorda off on his bike and causes him to fall into a ditch filled with poison oak. Neither Branlin ever teases or bullies Cory and his friends again.

One afternoon Cory comes home from school to learn that Rebel, his dog, has been hit by a car. Cory rushes to the vet to see his dog, only to learn he is dying. Cory prays death away. Rebel recovers, but he is never quite right. One night Cory hears someone talking to his dog. Cory realizes it is a young boy who once lived down the street, but died in a fire. Cory realizes it is time to give up Rebel. Cory arranges to have the vet put Rebel down. A short time later, Cory is riding his bike in town and is kidnapped by Donny Blaylock, one of the men he saw transacting business during his camping trip. Donny plans to hurt Cory, but instead he is distracted by the memory of a man he killed on that road. There is a car accident and Cory is freed. However, Donny is arrested for murder.

The sheriff, it turns out, has been taking bribe payments from the Blaylocks. As a result, he is leaving town. However, before he leaves, the sheriff wants Donny to be taken by the state police. The sheriff asks Tom Mackenson for help. At first Tom refuses, but later agrees. There is a shootout that ends when Biggun Blaylock's ammunition turns into green garden snakes. A short time later, the Brandywine Carnival comes to town. At the carnival, Cory and his friends see everything from the haunted house to a baby with one eye. Cory drags them off to see a creature that appears to be a triceratops. Davy Ray is deeply affected by seeing this animal, so when Cory learns the next day that someone helped the animal escape, he suspects it was Davy Ray. That fall, when hunting season begins, Cory finds himself thinking about parrots and green feathers. However, before Cory can investigate his suspicions, he learns that Davy Ray has been shot in a hunting accident. Cory and his family rush to the hospital. Cory tells Davy Ray a story about a solitary traveler. The following morning, Cory learns that Davy Ray has died. Cory does not know how to deal with the death of his friend, especially when his mother and pastor tell him he must have faith that Davy Ray is somewhere better.

When Cory learns that the vet and his wife had a green parrot in their home the night the stranger from Saxon's Lake was killed and that they both are allergic to milk and therefore would not have thought of seeing a milk man out before dawn, he begins to suspect they killed the man. At the same time, Cory's father finally goes to see the Lady after he goes to her for help dismantling a bomb. At this meeting, Cory's father is told the number thirty-three is important. The only thing Tom can find with that number is a bus that comes to town every other day. Tom takes a job at the gas station where the bus drops off passengers and waits. On the day someone finally gets off the bus, Cory goes to the vet's house to spy on him, to try to prove he killed that stranger. Tom learns that the dead stranger was a Neo-Nazi who helped hide a couple of German officers in Zephyr years before. The man came to town to blackmail these Germans to start a new life. Tom cannot imagine which of his neighbors might be German officers who could be so cruel as to pick and choose which Jewish prisoners should die.

However, when Tom learns the German officer was a veterinarian, he begins to suspect Dr. Lezander, the local vet. Tom and his new companions go to the vet's house where they discover Cory is being held against his will. Dr. Lezander takes off with Cory. Tom follows. When they reach the road that runs beside Saxon's Lake, the triceratops comes out of the woods and attacks Dr. Lezander's car, pushing it into the water. Tom saves Cory, but can do nothing for Dr. Lezander.

Cory returns to Zephyr many years later with his own family. The town was abandoned after the paper mill closed down in the 1970s. Cory drives to all his familiar haunts, finally stopping at his family's home. Before leaving, Cory decides to drive to the Thaxter mansion. There, Cory discovers that the mansion was given to an orphanage for boys and several people he knew in childhood still live there, working with the little boys.

Major Themes[edit]

Coming of Age[edit]

Cory Mackenson is twelve in 1964, the setting of this novel. In this year, Cory watches his father struggle with the death of a stranger, loses his dog, and experiences the death of a good friend. The novel begins with Cory getting up to help his father at his job as a milk man, an experience that is comfortable and familiar. However, it quickly grows unusual when he and his father see a car drive into Saxon's Lake. Cory's father jumps in to save the driver only to discover the man is already dead, badly beaten and handcuffed to the steering wheel of his car to prevent him from floating out of the car once it hits the bottom. This leaves Cory's father bothered by the idea that someone in their quiet little town could do such a horrible thing. Then begin the nightmares. Cory sees his father struggle with this event for the majority of the year, saddened by the hurt he can clearly see in his father. However, Cory is a child and is more focused on his own concerns. Cory spends the summer with his closest friends, including Davy Ray. They go camping alone for the first time and stumble on a scheme to bomb a local black museum. Cory sees his first naked girl and experiences his first crush. Cory's friend Johnny is beaten badly and becomes versed in boxing techniques in order to better protect himself in another attack from bullies. At the carnival that fall, the boys spend the evening indulging the curiosity of a normal boy, haunted houses, freak shows, and junk food. They also find themselves viewing a trapped animal, something that touches Davy Ray so deeply that he returns to the carnival and frees the poor animal. This same animal will later save Cory's life. Finally, during a hunting trip with his father at the end of the year, Davy Ray is shot. Davy Ray dies, leaving Cory frustrated and afraid, forced to take a leap of faith before he has even come to understand what faith is.

By the end of the year, Cory has gone camping on his own, lost a friend, lost his dog, and finds himself the object of a killer's fear. Cory has figured out before everyone else who killed the man in Saxon's Lake. Out of concern for his father, Cory has investigated on his own and come to the conclusion that the killer is the beloved vet in town. However, Cory cannot imagine what the motive might be, so he keeps his suspicions to himself. Cory could not possibly know that the vet is a German soldier living in hiding. Cory is caught spying on the vet on the same day his father discovers the truth, leaving Cory a pawn in the killer's attempt to escape justice. Cory survives, thanks to his father's heroics, something that helps build a closer relationship between the two. The events of 1964 each have a huge impact on Cory Mackenson. Learning that his father is human, learning that even best friends can die, learning what it means to be a man all help Cory to mature as a young man and step down the road to maturity. Cory takes each experience and learns from it, becoming a better person in the process. It is this fact that makes coming of age a theme of the novel.


Death touches the plot of this novel in the very first chapter. In the first chapter, Cory and his father see a car fall into Saxon's Lake in which a man, who has been badly beaten, has been handcuffed naked to the steering wheel. This death will overshadow Cory's father for the majority of the novel, leaving him convinced that the dead man wants him to commit suicide and join him in the dark of the lake's depths. Cory's father becomes depressed, refuses to eat, and can no longer sleep. The dreams take over his every waking moment until he finds himself considering death as a good alternative to living this life.

Even as Cory is trying to solve the mystery of the dead man in the lake, he is touched by other deaths. Cory's dog, Rebel, is hit by a car one day while running with a pack of dogs in town. Cory is rushed to the vet where he is told Rebel is dying and should be put out of his misery. Cory falls on the floor and cries, begging for death to leave his dog alone. Surprisingly, Rebel recovers from his injuries, but he is cold and refuses to eat. It appears the dog has died, but he continues to function in the world of the living because of Cory's prayer. Cory spends as much time as he can with his dog, despite the awareness that Rebel is no longer the same. One night, Cory finds Rebel speaking with a boy who died several years ago. Cory realizes he is being selfish by holding on to his dog and he should let him go, to become the pet of this dead boy in whatever world they live in death.

Before the year is over, Cory will experience one more death. Davy Ray, Cory's always skeptical friend, accidentally shoots himself while hunting in the woods with his father. Davy Ray's injuries are extensive, but he lives long enough for Cory to visit him in the hospital and tell him one last story. When Cory gets the news that Davy Ray is dead, he finds himself filled with questions he cannot find a satisfying answer to. Both his mother and pastor tell Cory to take a leap of faith, to believe Davy Ray is in a better place. Cory is only twelve and does not understand faith. However, this death has a huge impact on his life, making death a theme of the novel.

Racial Inequality[edit]

The novel is set in 1964, a time when tensions between whites and blacks in the south were still high. This novel is set in Zephyr Alabama, a small town along the Tecumseh River. Next to Zephyr is Bruton, another small town in which reside many of the black people who work in Zephyr. Bruton is closer to the river's edge, therefore it often floods. These people are poor, people who work hard and make small wages, leaving them destitute when the flood waters come. During a flood in 1964, several men in Zephyr refuse to help the people of Bruton even though stopping the flood waters there will protect Zephyr, because they did not feel it is their duty to help blacks. However, they change their minds when the son of the local bank owner threatens to tell his father about their lack of generosity.

There is a woman in Bruton called the Lady. The Lady is something of a leader in Bruton. Most of the white people in Zephyr believe the Lady uses voodoo magic to make bad things happen to them; therefore they are deeply afraid of her. As a result, they treat her with distance and a semblance of respect to protect them from her magic. However, any respect this woman gets is buried under the disdain of the whites who feel she attempts to live her life above her social station. The Lady ignores the protests of the white people and often appears at social events and gatherings that are traditionally for whites only.

The Lady spearheads a drive to create a museum of black history in Bruton. The Lady feels as though no one can change their future if they do not remember their past. A few days before the museum is to open, the Lady invites Cory and his mother to a reception in her honour. It is then that Cory sees the pictures of the little girls who die in the Birmingham Church bombing and knows that a couple of KKK members in Zephyr plan to bomb the museum opening. Cory helps them to find the bomb and stop the attempt. This is why racial inequality is a theme of this novel more than anything else because this episode represents the anger and prejudices that define the racial tensions of this time period.


The novel is set in Zephyr, Alabama near the Tecumseh River. Zephyr is a small town that is populated with people who work both at the paper mill up river and for the local dairy. The people all know one another and often are friendly with one another, sharing holidays and birthdays together as well as tragedies. Down river is Bruton, a small town that is populated by many of the black people who work in Zephyr as domestic and blue collar workers. Through the course of the novel, the main character befriends many of the residents of Bruton, overshadowing the border between the two towns that often separates his neighbours from the Bruton residents.

The setting of this novel is important in two ways. The first reason the setting of this novel is important is because it is a small town in 1964. The small town aspect of the setting is important because it creates a tension upon the discovery of a murdered man that might not be present if the setting were a larger city. The second reason the setting is important is because of the racial tension between the few bigoted people of Zephyr and the black people of Bruton. This tension creates a situation in which the notorious group the KKK forms a chapter in Zephyr and makes plans to bomb the opening of the new black history museum. If not for the setting of a small town in 1964, the racial tensions between the people of Zephyr and Bruton would not lead to the bombing that Cory Mackenson is able to prevent.


Point of View[edit]

The novel is written in the first person point of view. The main character, Cory Mackenson, narrates the story, telling the main events of his twelfth year of life. Cory tells a well rounded story, including both things he was a witness to as well as events that took place out of his knowledge but of which he learned about later. These latter events Cory tells with something of an authorial voice that allows the reader to understand that the narrator is informing the reader of events in the present tense that he learned after the fact.

The point of view in this novel is first person, creating a connection between reader and main character that is unique to this point of view. However, this novel also includes a third person point of view told through the main character's eyes in something of an authorial voice. This is a unique change of viewpoint in this novel that allows the reader to see and understand events that take place out of the knowledge of the main character but are important to the developing plot. This point of view makes the continuity of the novel a little complicated, but it also presents a well rounded point of view that works well with the plot.

Language and Meaning[edit]

The novel contains language that is both simple and appropriate to the characters within the novel. The novel is set in 1964 in Alabama, therefore the characters tend to speak in a dialect that is common to that region. However, the writer does not attempt to manipulate the dialogue in such a way that causes the grammar to be confusing and difficult to read. There is slang in the novel and reference to many religious and regional words or phrases that may or may not be familiar to the reader, but many of these references are clearly explained in the text and do not pose any confusion for the reader.

The language of the novel is simple and easy for the reader to comprehend. The author remains loyal to his characters, having them speak and act in ways that are common to the area in which the novel is set. The language works with this plot because of its authenticity regarding the characters and the setting, and is simple enough that even the youngest reader can comprehend the action taking place within the plot.


The novel is separated into five parts that each includes several named and numbered chapters. Each chapter is more than ten pages long and is often separated by spaces that allow the reader to know when a change in scene or setting is about to take place. The novel is told in both exposition and dialogue. In fact, much of the novel is told as though a young man is telling a story about his childhood, telling rather than showing many of the scenes that were important to him in the summer of his twelfth year.

The novel includes multiple story lines, some integral to the main plot and others that appear to have no importance other than their entertainment value until the end of the novel when many of these story lines come together in the final climax of the novel. The main plot follows the investigation of one young boy into the mysterious death of a stranger whom his father saw as his car sank into Saxon's Lake. This investigation often takes a back burner to the other events in the boy's life, including the death of his dog, his best friend, and his own close brush with death. However, in the end the investigation reveals all, both to the boy and his hometown, concluding the novel in a highly satisfaction climax.

Primary Characters[edit]

Cory Mackenson[edit]

Cory Mackenson is an eleven-year-old boy in 1964. This novel follows Cory's adventures that year, including his attempts to solve a murder by which his father has been haunted since inadvertently witnessing the disposal of the body. Cory is precocious, a young man who wants to be a writer, so he spends a great deal of his time investigating the people and events taking place in the little town where he lives. Cory fights off Old Moses, a large aquatic creature that swims into a house in Bruton during the flood. Cory later goes camping alone with a group of friends and overhears a bomb transaction that allows him later to save the people of Bruton from a hate crime. Cory loses a good friend that year and gains another. It is an amazing summer that will remain with Cory the rest of his life, bringing him back to Zephyr twenty years later with his family, only to find several friends still living there.

Tom Mackenson[edit]

Tom Mackenson is Cory's father. Tom saw a car drive into Saxon's Lake early one morning and dove into the water to save the driver. What Tom saw that day will haunt him for the rest of the novel. The man in the car is beaten, has a piano wire around his throat, and is handcuffed to the steering wheel. Tom will have nightmares for months, telling him to join him down in the dark. Tom believes the man wants him to commit suicide, but learns from the Lady that he is speaking to the killer. In fact, Tom will later learn that he is not saying down in the dark, but Dahninaderke. These dreams will lead Tom to the identity of the killer and solve his nightmares.

Rebecca Mackenson[edit]

Rebecca Mackenson is Cory's mother. Rebecca is an overprotective mother who has trouble adjusting to the idea that her son is growing up. Rebecca does not want Cory to go camping on his own, but finally relents when her husband agrees to it. Rebecca is a force in her son's life, not always the one to say no but occasionally the one who encourages her son. When the Lady invites Cory to visit her, Rebecca insists that they go even though her husband disagrees. This meeting allows the Mackenson family to discover that the Lady is actually a kind woman who only wants to help.

The Lady[edit]

The Lady is a highly respected black woman who lives in Bruton. It is said that the Lady is over one hundred years old and that she is an expert in voodoo magic. Most white people are afraid of the Lady, including Tom Mackenson. However, Cory becomes good friends with the Lady after the flood that wipes out a portion of Bruton. Cory rescues a small black boy from a monster fish known as Old Moses. In return, the Lady gives Cory a new bike he names Rocket. The Lady also claims to be able to help Tom with nightmares he has suffered since he saw a dead man sink into Saxon's Lake. The Lady gives Tom a reading that comes up with the number 33. In the end, Tom uses this number to solve the mystery of the dead man, proving the Lady's powers of the unknown.

Minor characters[edit]

Vernon Thaxter[edit]

Vernon Thaxter is the eccentric son of the richest man in town. Vernon once wanted to be a writer despite his father's disapproval and even published a book once. However, the publishers talked Vernon into changing the book to fit their market, a change that caused the book to not sell well. As a result, Vernon had a mental breakdown that brought him back home, living as though he were a child again. Vernon can often be seen walking through town naked. However, Vernon has a clear mind when it comes to watching the people in town and he manages to give Cory some insight into the killer of the mystery man in Saxon's Lake that helps him identify that person.

Davy Ray Callan[edit]

Davy Ray Callan is a friend of Cory's. Davy Ray is the friend who likes to tease the others, often voicing doubts about the games and theories the others entertain. Davy Ray has a strong opinion on everything, including the stories that Cory often tells, forcing him to stay honest to his story. The fall of 1964, Davy Ray is hunting with his father when he trips and accidentally shoots himself. Davy Ray dies during the night after the accident.

Ben Sears[edit]

Ben Sears is another of Cory's friends. Ben has a father who drinks moonshine with the Blaylocks, causing a great deal of tension in the home. Ben is the friend who always seems to be lagging behind, who is slower than the others. However, Ben remains a close friend to all, especially Davy Ray who delights in teasing Ben for his slowness. Ben grows up to be a successful stock broker.

Johnny Wilson[edit]

Johnny Wilson is a friend of Cory's. Johnny is beaten badly by the Bralin boys, leaving him with a concussion that excludes him from many of the summer activities the other boys indulge in. As a result, Johnny teaches himself boxing with a book written by Sugar Ray Robinson. When Gotha Branlin attempts to beat Johnny again over some arrowheads, Johnny fights back, teaching Gotha a lesson. This causes Gotha to go straight and stop beating smaller kids. In the end, Johnny grows up to be chief of police in a city in Florida.

Granddaddy Jaybird[edit]

Granddaddy Jaybird is Cory's paternal grandfather. Granddaddy Jaybird is a loud, obnoxious man who is obsessed with practical jokes and animal carcasses. Cory comes to realize as he grows that Granddaddy Jaybird is a selfish person who cares for no one but himself. In fact, Cory's first lesson in this is when Granddaddy Jaybird abandons Cory in the heat of a summer's day in order to play illegal poker with Bodean Blaylock. Cory understands that Granddaddy Jaybird is not a good person, but he also believes that his curiosity that helps in his writing comes from Jaybird, therefore he respects his grandfather for his gifts to his own personality.

Gotha and Gordo Branlin[edit]

Gotha and Gordo Branlin are the local bullies in Zephyr. Gotha and Gordo like to pick on boys younger than themselves, which means Cory and his friends. On the baseball field one day, the Branlin boys attack Cory and his friends mercilessly, causing one boy to suffer a concussion. As a consequence of this episode, one of those boys learns to box from a book and he attacks Gotha Branlin in the schoolyard. Gotha learns from this experience and never attacks these boys again. In fact, Gotha straightens out his life and becomes a decent citizen when he grows older. Gordo, on the other hand, never learns his lesson and eventually dies in a holdup when he is shot by the owner of the convenience store he is trying to rob.

Nemo Curliss[edit]

Nemo Curliss is a young boy who comes to live in Zephyr for a few short months during the summer of 1964. On their first meeting, Cory comes to discover that Nemo has a talent when it comes to throwing baseballs. However, Nemo's overprotective mother refuses to allow him to play because she feels her little boy is too fragile to play rough sports like baseball. Cory and his friends are deeply disappointed because Nemo could have helped them win the season that summer in little league. During their brief friendship with Nemo, Cory and his friends are attacked by the Branlin boys while defending nemo, an event that causes the boys terrible injuries and leaves Johnny looking for revenge.

The Blaylocks[edit]

The Blaylocks, Wade, Donny, Bodean, and Biggun, run the moonshining business in Zephyr. The Blaylocks also run the local brothel and several other illegal businesses. The town of Zephyr lives in fear of the Blaylocks because they know that they will not hesitate to kill in order to protect their businesses or each other. Even the sheriff is under the control of the Blaylocks, taking payments from them every month in a promise to leave them be. In the end, however, the sheriff finds himself forced out of office because of the Blaylocks. Before he leaves, however, the sheriff is insistent that he take Donny Blaylock to jail for the murder of Little Stevie Cauley. There is a shootout, leaving the Blaylocks wounded and arrested. This leaves Zephyr free from their criminal for the first time in many years.

Dr. Franz Lezander[edit]

Dr. Franz Lezander is the veterinarian in Zephyr. Dr. Lezander cares for Rebel when he is hit by a car. Cory is overwhelmed by Dr. Lezander's care of his dog and is so impressed that he entertains the idea of becoming a vet himself. However, when Cory learns that Dr. Lezander is allergic to milk and that he is a night owl, Cory begins to wonder if Dr. Lezander could be the mysterious killer who killed a man and dumped his body in Saxon's Lake. Later, when Cory learns that Dr. Lezander had in his care the parrots of the Glass sisters, he realizes that the green feather he found at Saxon's Lake that fateful day came from Lezander's house. Before Cory can do anything with all this information, his father learns that Dr. Lezander and his wife are really German soldiers who were cruel to Jews at a concentration camp. Dr. Lezander's real name is Gunther Dahninaderke, a German doctor who chose who would live or die in the concentration camp. Dr. Dahninaderke killed the mysterious man for blackmailing him and threatening to reveal his true identity.

Brenda Sutley[edit]

The Demon is a young girl several years younger than Cory who has a crush on him. The Demon picks her nose and is known to offer boogers to the boys she loves, including Cory. Cory is grossed out by the Demon and is happy when she focuses her affections on another boy. The Demon is a brilliant young girl who is moved up to Cory's grade in the heat of her crush on him and placed in the seat behind him, making his life miserable for the better part of the year. Later, Cory learns that the Demon becomes a chemist for DuPont, but gives up her job in favor of becoming a performance artist.

Chile Willow[edit]

Chile Willow is a very beautiful sixteen-year-old girl Cory sees swimming naked in a small pond while lost in the woods. Chile takes Cory home with him to the small shack where she lives with her mother, husband, and baby, Bubba. Cory falls instantly in love with Chile even as he is aware he will never see her again after he leaves her home for his own. However, Cory does meet Chile's grown son twenty years later and learns that Chile has become a teacher.


  1. ^ World Fantasy Convention. "Award Winners and Nominees". Retrieved 4 Feb 2011.