Book Review: “Assumption” by Percival Everett


“Assumption” by Percival Everett (2011)

Genre: African-American Literature, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Page Length: 225 pages (paperback edition)


Ogden Walker, deputy sheriff of a small New Mexico town, is on the trail of an old woman’s murderer. But at the crime scene, his are the only footprints leading up to and away from her door. Something is amiss, and even his mother knows it. As other cases pile up, Ogden gives chase, pursuing flimsy leads for even flimsier reasons. His hunt leads him from the seamier side of Denver to a hippie commune as he seeks the puzzling solution.
In Assumption, his follow-up to the wickedly funny I Am Not Sidney Poitier, Percival Everett is in top form as he once again upends our expectations about characters, plot, race, and meaning. A wild ride to the heart of a baffling mystery, Assumption is a literary thriller like no other. (description from Goodreads)


So once again, this is another book I read for my Ethnic Lit class. When I started this book I thought I knew what I was getting into, but in the end I was thrown for a loop. Like the other books I’ve read for this same class, one of the major themes going on besides the plot line of detective mystery/thriller, is race. But Everett is very subtle with race,in this novel. It’s not that it’s “not there”, but it’s so embedded into the story that sometimes it doesn’t necessarily jump out at you.

The book is broken up into three different sections or cases. Each one is different from the other and it is fast paced and full of suspense and action. At times it can be hard trying to fit together pieces of the case or even why a certain person/place/thing is reference is thrown in even if it is totally irrelevant to the case. I found it to be confusing and a bit distracting while trying to read this novel.

Our main protagonist, Ogden Walker, is sort of everyday kind of guy, despite being a cop. Sometimes his character is a little too dry or boring. But Ogden does his best to try to solve the cases along with the rest of his fellow officers. He constantly expresses feeling alone and out-of-place (which you’ll understand more when you read the novel). My best guess is while reading the novel Everett does or doesn’t want you to make “assumptions”, which is a habit that is hard to break for readers. We naturally make assumptions about characters or plots, and these guesses will throw you for a loop by the time you finish the novel.

Final Verdict:

Overall, “Assumption”  is a different kind of read. It has the styles and themes of a typical detective mystery novel, but adds its own unique elements that makes it stand out. The plot is bit confusing at times, but its suspense and action is great. The only big problem I had while reading this book is the abrupt endings of each case, it kind of left you hanging. Recommended for fans of mystery. 4 out of 5 stars!


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