Summary and book reviews of The People of the Broken Neck by Silas Dent Zobal

The People of the Broken Neck

by Silas Dent Zobal

The People of the Broken Neck by Silas Dent Zobal
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  • Paperback:
    Oct 2016, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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Book Summary

A soul-damaged man, broken by war, struggles to reclaim his home and family.

From the woods where he hides with his nearly grown son Clarke and his young daughter King, ex-Army Ranger Dominick Sawyer watches Agent Charlie Basin's flashlight beam bounce on the walls inside his cabin. Dom's wife is missing. His post-trauma hallucinations rip at him explosively and bring him to his knees. And a local deputy sheriff is dead. When the FBI agents recede into the night, the Sawyers begin to run, across the country in stolen trucks, leaving a trail of blood behind them. Together with a young girl they pick up on the road, they hope to run until they find a peaceable place in the American Northwest.

But Agent Basin sees his own troubled family reflected in Dom's haunted existence, and his pursuit is relentless.

All any of them want is to spirit King away to someplace safe.

All she wants is not to be afraid of her father and to find out why her mother disappeared.

Excerpt from The People of the Broken Neck, by Silas Dent Zobal. © 2016 by Silas Dent Zobal. All rights reserved.



Excerpt
The People of the Broken Neck

AT NIGHT THE TILLED EARTH looked like a black lake. A stand of trees sheltered on the near side of the field and on the far side was a log cabin. The long branches of the trees leaned against the ground and something as dark as oil dripped from their tips. When the halogen lights began to sweep the inside of the cabin, the father did not rise from where he hunkered between his daughter and his son beneath the hollow pine. On each of them he rested one of his hands. The ground beneath them was still stiff with late-March cold and the scent of wood smoke drifting from their cabin smelled like his children's sleeping skins.

Down the hill, past the line of willows and the hollow pine and the plum tree, the Susquehanna River coiled like a black rope. Above them something moved in the branches. Something that moved quickly ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Unbridled Press has nurtured the early careers of many talented authors including one of my favorites, Emily St. John Mandel. In Zobal, they have another winner. His clipped and poetic prose is saturated with the weight of its storytelling obligations and delivers handsomely.   (Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

A powerful, moving allegory that reflects how post–9/11 missteps scarred the American soul.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Powered by rich imagery, darkly lyrical prose, and a deeply philosophical undertone, this novel explores the nature of family - particularly when those familial bonds begin breaking - with profoundly moving conclusions.

Author Blurb John Vernon
Silas Dent Zobal's The People of the Broken Neck is one of those rare hybrids: a thriller and a deeply philosophical novel, a novel so finely attuned to the dark currents of human love and aggression that it touches those wellsprings that lie beneath the human. Beautiful and hard, Zobel's prose is like a newly-cleaned rifle

Author Blurb Claire Vaye Watkins
I am a forever fan of Silas Dent Zobal, a direct descendant of the great stylists and provocateurs of arts and letters.

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Beyond the Book

America's First Ransom Note

Charlie and his BrotherIn People of the Broken Neck, a series of mysterious messages, scribbled in salt, follow the Sawyers as they flee from the authorities all across the country. Cryptic communications, especially when interlinked with crimes, have always been intriguing, and the ones in this novel reminded me of ransom notes even if they make no overt demands.

It is believed that America's first ransom note was sent in the summer of 1874 and followed the kidnapping of two boys, sons of Christian Ross, a merchant who had set up shop in the northwest suburbs of Philadelphia. It is unclear why, but the criminals returned the five-year-old son, Walter, but held on to the four-year-old Charlie. Distraught, Christian Ross approached the local police. But ...

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