Run Katie Run: May 2021 Artist of the Month

Run Katie Run May 2021 Artist of the Month



Running on Love


Among the things I admire about the band Run Katie Run is that their tunes never quite turn out the way you think they will. This Atlanta-based quintet consists of Kate Coleman (vocals), husband Corey Coleman (guitar), Adam Pendlington (guitar, banjo), Stephen Quinn (bass), and Ian Pendlington (drums). They often get classified as an Americana outfit, but that has a lot to do with not being able to find a peg with their name on it.


Kate Coleman–a Buffalo native–is the “Katie” at the center of things. “15 Minutes” opens like it’s a little folk ditty with Coleman playing the role of dainty chanteuse. Then you notice the lyrics are a bit skewed. Is this a song about how warmup groups only get 15 minutes to shine, a metaphor for a stale relationship, or both? Coleman’s voice shifts from fragile to probing and challenging. It’s not quite a boot in the backside, but the toe is arching upward. Coleman’s voice rises, jumps, and the emotions swell. And what do we make of the brief jam band-like electric guitar lines? Then we come full circle. Is Coleman having us on, or is something deeper unfolding? It’s a delight whatever else it might be. 


Coleman’s staccato cadences on “No Way Out,” an exploration of how the USA is on the fast track to nowhere, presages sprays of guitar notes and segues to ominous screams and near cacophony. But again, those big swells are followed by an amble back to a calmer place. “Stolen Time” is much gentler in theme–wanting to stay in that “stolen moment” that’s more certain than whether a couple is on a “staircase to the stars of freefall to Hell”­–but the arrangement is equal parts Dixie Chicks, nouveau punk, and indie rock.


The Run Katie Run is another opportunity for Coleman to air out her lungs. Its tune, like most on the six-track EP, is a pastiche that sometimes feels more San Fran than Nashville or Atlanta. Coleman lists Dolly Parton and Janis Joplin among her influences. She manages to capture a bit of each without sounding like either. Or maybe you’d prefer the funk/soul groove of “Stay or Leave,” or the uber-catchy hooks of “Kinda Hoping.” Your toes will tap to the latter no matter how hard you resist. And that’s another thing I like about Run Katie Run. They didn’t hook me at first, but they sure reeled me in.


Rob Weir


The Darkness Knows a Gripping Icelandic Mystery



By Arnaldur Indridason

Minotaur Books/St. Martin’s Press, 352 pages.




Arnaldur Indridason is one of Iceland’s top crime fiction writers, and his newest novel, The Darkness Knows demonstrates why. Some readers might know his protagonist, Konrád, from Indridason’s The Shadow District (2017).


Konrád is retired, but he has trouble staying that way. To say that Konrád has issues is an understatement. Before his criminal father was murdered in an unsolved case, he sometimes used young Konrád as a foil in his schemes. With a background such as that, Konrád wasn’t always trusted by his colleagues when he became a cop and, given that he has a withered arm, he wasn’t exactly the usual physical candidate either. Konrád quit the force to care for his wife Erne, who died of cancer, but he’s still haunted from having cheated on her when she was ill. He also has a terse relationship with son Húgo, who is a cold fish, and is married to a woman Konrád finds overbearing, though he loves his twin grandkids. The latter are pretty much his sole joy.


To further complicate matters, a cold case–the disappearance of a man named Sigurvin in 1985–heats up when, courtesy of global warming, Sigurvin’s preserved body emerges from the melt on Langjökull glacier. This is especially unsettling as Konrád was part of the team that arrested Hjaltalín for Sigurvin’s murder 30 years earlier, though without a corpse, they couldn’t make the charges stick. Now Hjaltalín is back in jail and insists on speaking with Konrád. All the evidence then and now points to Hjaltalín, and though and he and Konrád don’t particularly like each other, Hjaltalín trusts him more than any other cop. Hjaltalín is dying from throat cancer, but he’s confessing to nothing. He wants Konrád to promise he will clear his name, though Konrád refuses as he’s sure the right man is in jail.


That last point is a Chekhov’s gun, of course. Against his better judgment, Konrád is sucked back into a case he wishes had stayed frozen. So how does a guy who has been off the force for six years even have the authority to investigate? He doesn’t, actually, though he calls upon a few favors. Even those are fraught: the pathologist with whom he had his affair, Reykjavik chief inspector Marta who puts him on a short leash, and several surly lower-level functionaries. Major obstacles remain. The lead investigator in 1985 despises Konrád and others on the force find him a nuisance. Plus, he’s an ex-cop so anyone who wishes to can simply slam the door on him and proceed to do exactly that. All the signs say that Konrád should walk away and if that’s not another Chekhov’s gun, old Anton was from Iowa.


Of course, Konrád doesn’t slink away, or this would be a 25-page novel. Things get messier when Konrád encounters a woman named Herdís who wants him to look into her brother Villi’s hit-and-run death in 2009. Herdís remembers that Villi met a man on the night Sigurvin disappeared and thinks something untoward occurred. If that’s not labyrinthine enough for you, Konrád imagines that perhaps his father’s murder in 1963 somehow connects to all of this. You might wonder how three killings spread over 46 can possibly be part of a pattern. Maybe they’re not. One of the intriguing things about the novel is that Konrád is the opposite pole from preternaturally prescient investigators. A big part of him still thinks that Hjaltalín is a guilty as an Icelandic summer is long. But it boils down a question of how he can possibly stay retired with three mysteries lying on the table like crack awaiting an addict’s nose.


By now you probably realize that Indridson favors complexity and damaged psyches over cookie cutter potboilers. Before The Darkness Knows wraps, it takes us many places. Hjaltalín’s dying refusal to provide an alibi for his whereabouts on the evening that Sigurvin was dumped into his glacial grave is evocative of the trial of the American labor troubadour Joe Hill. Indridson also steers us into fake spiritualism, seedy bars, the Boy Scouts, suicide, infidelity, and the Icelandic financial crash (2008-10). On that journey, Konrád encounters a gaggle of characters that range from the down-and-out and remorseful to the ominous and amoral. Like readers, Konrád is never sure what’s a real clue and what’s a red herring.


The Darkness Knows does employ several Chekhov’s guns that fire blanks. It stretches credulity that the mere discovery of Sigurvin’s body triggers memories that they did not 30 years earlier and with implausible vividness. As much as I appreciated the complexity of Indridson’s plotting, there is also a palpable sense that snipping several threads would have made for a tidier book. But I’ll take an intelligent mystery over one stuffed with clichés any day of the week.



Rob Weir