Hard Cash Valley (Bull Mountain, #3)Hard Cash Valley by Brian Panowich
My rating: 4/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

this takes place in the same world as Bull Mountain, The Broken King, and Like Lions, but while it’s a standalone, meaning your appreciation of it isn’t necessarily contingent upon your having read the others, you should read those nonetheless simply because they are brilliant examples of character-driven crime fiction that manage to stand out in an overcrowded genre.

i’m thrilled to see so many five-star reviews for this book because panowich is one of the best grit lit writers going, and he 100% deserves all the acclaim and recognition in the world. but if i’m being honest, for me this was a high three and a half rounded up. part of it is likely my 2020-battered attention span, but i wasn’t as invested in arson-investigating new-character dane kirby as i was the burroughs family and their criminal and/or crime-fighting exploits.

i found him a little stodgy, and the secondary characters here were somewhat less morally complex than in panowich’s previous works, but the story itself is every bit as tight and explosive as i’ve come to expect from his deliciously dark mind.

the parts that i loved i really, really loved. kirby himself may be somewhat sentimental, clinging to the memory of his wife—talking to her more than he does to his long-suffering still-living lady—but the events that unfold are as brutal and unsentimental as it gets.

once the plot starts its engine, its pace is relentless, and everything barrels violently towards its bloody conclusion without ever letting up, as one crime leads to another and seemingly unrelated storylines converge in unexpected and satisfying ways.

as always, he’s amazing at evoking atmosphere, his location-writing all but springs up off the page, and this departure-but-not-really adds another excellent layer to the saga of the criminal enterprises of backwoods georgia he’s been so skillfully developing.

it may not be my favorite of his books, but considering that i read this in my little cave o’quarantine while the goddamn world was falling apart, my inability to engage was most certainly not the book’s fault, so my round-up is an apologetic, “it’s not you, it’s EVERYTHING ELSE” and i can’t wait to get my hands on whatever he writes next.


back to work and all worn out – review to come when i reacclimate!


finally getting to this one!



there’s a giveaway for it now, but don’t all go storming the gates because i don’t want you ruining my chances!!

read my book reviews on goodreads

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