Rolling the Bones
Publishers Weekly wrote about Rolling the Bones: A con man befriends a Texas couple and sends their life spinning out of control in Jarrard’s second novel (after Over There), a lyrical, mystical suspense tale that begins when Carl Blalock meets a drifter named Carl Stein and ends up hiring him to work in his hardware and lumber store. The friendship between the two men is paralleled by a deeper bond between their attractive wives, and when Stein’s spouse, May, drowns during a swimming outing, Blalock’s wife, Venus, leaves him, realizing that she was really in love with May. That decision, along with Stein’s move to rob his erstwhile friend of $7,000, sets off a chain of events in which Venus and Stein hit the road separately and inadvertently end up meeting in a Louisiana casino, while Blalock takes off for Mexico and begins a passionate, dreamy affair of his own. The motives of the various characters often seem dubious as the plot unfolds, but the quality of Jarrard’s prose is high, and he depicts in convincing detail the complex interactions between characters, throwing in some occasional observations from those they encounter on the road. He also integrates the more surreal aspects of casino life into the passages in which Stein and Venus test one another, and he captures the hazy, disembodied feel of Carl Blalock’s interlude in Mexico. The ending features a casino jackpot as well as an intriguing fate for the shifty yet strangely appealing Stein, but it is the beauty of the writing that carries the day and proves this a promising sophomore effort.