American Gods begins with Shadow, a big man, who has spent three years in prison for armed robbery and gets out in two days. He learned in prison to just do his own time, and even with his big size and strength he is introverted.
It turns out that they let him out two days early and coincidentally his wife is killed at the same time in an automobile wreck with her lover. Shadow doesn’t seem to believe that she is really dead and he sets out to go to where his wife lived immediately when he is released. On his way he meets a man who seems to know a lot about him and who says to just call him Wednesday. The man claims to have many names and we learn one of those names is Odin, who is an old Norse God, and Wednesday is a name that can be trace as coming from this God. Wednesday tells Shadow in this first meeting he wants to hire him.
Gaiman wants to show in this book a nation made up of a variety of the worlds people, all of who once at least were subject to special Gods.
When Shadow arrives at his former home he seems oblivious as to how his wife died and he waits to attend her funeral. That night in his hotel room his conversations and encounters with his wife , after she is dead ,is one of the most interesting part of the book
Wednesday sees that no one in America really believes in the Old Gods and without belief they don’t have much power. Wednesday succeeded, after some time, in hiring Shadow as a gopher and with him he seems to be on a mission to move the new American Gods out of the way. They of course do not want to comply. Wednesday and Shadow travel across America and have sort of a planning conference with many of the other older Gods. Sometimes it isn’t clear if they are even in this world or dimension.
The stories are interesting, and the writing is polished, but the plot it is loosely connected and a hard to follow. I don’t think I would spend the time reading this book if I had known what it turned out to be. Neil Gaiman was not well known in America when this was written and some of his newer work seems better.