Jon Sealy’s award-winning debut novel is a gripping drama about family ties and bad choices, about the folly of power and the limitations of the law.
Late one night at the end of a scorching summer, a phone call rouses Sheriff Furman Chambers out of bed. Two men have been shot dead on Highway 9 in front of the Hillside Inn, a one-time boardinghouse that is now just a front for Larthan Tull’s liquor business. When Sheriff Chambers arrives to investigate, witnesses say a man named Mary Jane Hopewell walked into the tavern, dragged two of Tull’s runners into the street, and laid them out with a shotgun. Sheriff Chambers’s investigation leads him into the Bell village, where Mary Jane’s family lives a quiet, hardscrabble life of working in the cotton mill. While the weary sheriff digs into the mystery and confronts the county’s underground liquor operation, the whiskey baron himself is looking for vengeance. Mary Jane has gotten in the way of his business, and you don’t do that to Larthan Tull and get away with it.
“A significant new voice in Southern fiction” —Ron Rash
“A potent mash-up of noir, Southern fiction and period novel, set in South Carolina during Prohibition … A near flawless effort from a writer to watch.”
— Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A grand new talent” —Bret Lott
“An assured work of literary suspense … Sealy’s finely drawn characters and evocative sense of place and time make this a memorable read, on par with the best of Daniel Woodrell and Ron Rash.”
— Library Journal
“An atmospheric and unbearably suspenseful debut novel” —Holly Goddard Jones
“What you’d get if Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner co-wrote the HBO series ‘Boardwalk Empire’ while on an especially inspired, existentially tinged bender.”
— Richmond Times-Dispatch
“A simmering powerhouse of a novel” —Wiley Cash