Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Hard Cash Valley

Hard Cash Valley by Brian Panowich
Macmillian/St. Martin's; 5/5/20
eBook review copy; 304 pages

Hard Cash Valley by Brian Panowich is a very highly recommended gritty Southern noir procedural.

Arnie Blackwell, a petty criminal who made a huge score, is viciously murdered in Jacksonville, Florida. Dane Kirby, Georgia Bureau of Investigation freelancer, is surprised when he is called to fly down to Florida, view the crime scene and then assigned to work with FBI Special Agent Roselita Velasquez, replacing her partner. After reviewing what is known about the victim, he quickly realizes that the case will lead them back to the criminal circles in his own backyard of McFalls County, Georgia. Arnie was recently in McFalls County at the Slasher, the largest cockfighting tournament in the U.S., and he won big - too big. Complicating the case is that Arnie's younger brother William is missing and the boy may have an unusual ability that others want to take advantage of.

There is a whole lot of interesting well-developed characters present in Hard Cash Valley. Dane Kirby is a wounded man, haunted by the death of his family, and he carries his anguish and pain with him every day. But he also understands the locals and has an insight into the area's criminal activity and the connections between people. I'll admit an immediate dislike for Misty as well as some other characters that you were set up to dislike right from the start. William is a great character. The locals are interesting and there are a whole lot of backstories and alliances between them.
The writing is incredible and perfectly depicts and captures the place and people. This is a well-crafted dark and gritty story, with an overabundance of violence and cruelty, but it all pertains to the case in some way. The plot is compelling and you will be reading as fast as you can to see what happens next. Even though this is the third thriller Panowich has set in Georgia’s McFalls County, you can read it as a standalone. 4.5

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Macmillian/St. Martin's.

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