In Paris Trout, Pete Dexter tells the mesmerizing story of a shocking crime that eats away at the social fabric of a small town, exposing the hypocrisies of its ways and shattering the lives of its citizens.
The crime is the murder of a fourteen-year-old black girl and the killer is Paris Trout, a respected white citizen of Cotton Point, Georgia, and a man without guilt. His crime haunts the men and women of this town. Harry Seagraves, a prominent citizen and Trout’s defense attorney, has nightmares about it. Trout’s wife, Hanna, bears the abuse of his paranoia, which grows as the town reacts to the crime and puts Trout on trial. As he becomes more obsessed with his cause and his vendettas against those who have betrayed him, Trout moves closer and closer to the edge of sanity, finally exploding with more violence and rage.
In this novel of social drama, a casual murder in the small Georgia town of Cotton Point just after World War II and the resulting court case cleave open the ugly divisions of race and class. The man accused of shooting a black girl, a storekeeper named Paris Trout, has no great feeling of guilt, nor fear that the system will fail to work his way. Trout becomes an embarrassment to the polite white society that prefers to hold itself high above such primitive prejudice. But the trial does not allow any hiding from the stark reality of social and racial tensions. Dexter, a former newspaper columnist, is also the author of Deadwood and God’s Pocket. Paris Trout won the 1988 National Book Award.