In this timeless, mythical tale of unforgiving justice and elusive grace, rural Mississippi townsfolk shoulder the pain of generations as something dangerous lurks in the enigmatic kudzu of the woods.
The town of Red Bluff, Mississippi, has seen better days, though those who’ve held on have little memory of when that was. Myer, the county’s aged, sardonic lawman, still thinks it can prove itself — when confronted by a strange family of drifters, the sheriff believes that the people of Red Bluff can be accepting, rational, even good.
The opposite is true: this is a landscape of fear and ghosts — of regret and violence — transformed by the kudzu vines that have enveloped the hills around it, swallowing homes, cars, rivers, and hiding a terrible secret deeper still.
Colburn, a junkyard sculptor who’s returned to Red Bluff, knows this pain all too well, though he too is willing to hope for more when he meets and falls in love with Celia, the local bar owner. The Deep South gives these noble, broken, and driven folks the gift of human connection while bestowing upon them the crippling weight of generations. With broken histories and vagabond hearts, the townsfolk wrestle with the evil in the woods — and the wickedness that lurks in each and every one of us.
Michael Farris Smith is the author of The Fighter, Desperation Road, Rivers, and The Hands of Strangers. His novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with Esquire, Southern Living, Book Riot, and numerous others, and have been named Indie Next List, Barnes & Noble Discover, and Amazon Best of the Month selections. He has been a finalist for the Southern Book Prize, the Gold Dagger Award in the UK, and the Grand Prix des Lectrices in France, and his essays have appeared with the New York Times, Bitter Southerner, Writer’s Bone, and more. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife and two daughters.
This was a strange book, in a good way. The blurb implies a straightforward crime thriller but it isn’t quite that.
Colburn has returned to the town his father died in, still dealing with his feelings about his parents.
Three strange drifters also arrive in town, never named, they live in their car till they, and three local residents, go missing.
It’s like a weird, anti fairy tale, with the creeping vines gradually eating up the town and its inhabitants. A town that’s slowly dying, with its empty store fronts and dwindling population.
The writing is lyrical, drawing you into the Mississippi haze.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.