“The Year God Forgot Us” by Dennis Nau (North Star Press, $14.95):
The narrator of this endearing, good-hearted novel owns a restaurant in North Dakota, where “the winter of ’36 almost killed us, it was so bad.” Besides struggling through the Great Depression, the town of Bernadotte was almost buried under snow, and it was so cold “almost eight hundred chickens froze to death …”
Nau catches exactly the feel of a small Midwestern town, with spot-on dialogue that makes readers feel like they’re sitting at a table with these folks. And then a traveling salesman comes to town, and eventually everyone is sucked into a huge con readers can see coming but the characters cannot. The smooth con man takes months to build the townspeople’s trust, carefully playing on their fears of the bad economy, Mormons, Catholics and just about anybody else.
Nau tells his involving story in just 144 pages, and he does it so well you wish he would have kept going, although the story ends just the way it should. There is no biographical information about the author in the book, but his blog indicates he has had short stories published, and his talent with short fiction shows in this sweet novel.
St. Paul Pioneer Press – February 19, 2012