Reviews of When These Mountains Burn by David Joy

When These Mountains Burn

by David Joy

When These Mountains Burn by David Joy X
When These Mountains Burn by David Joy
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  • Published:
    Aug 2020, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Book Summary

Acclaimed author and "remarkably gifted storyteller" (the Charlotte Observer) David Joy returns with a fierce and tender tale of a father, an addict, a lawman, and the explosive events that come to unite them.

When his addict son gets in deep with his dealer, it takes everything Raymond Mathis has to bail him out of trouble one last time. Frustrated by the slow pace and limitations of the law, Raymond decides to take matters into his own hands.

After a workplace accident left him out of a job and in pain, Denny Rattler has spent years chasing his next high. He supports his habit through careful theft, following strict rules that keep him under the radar and out of jail. But when faced with opportunities too easy to resist, Denny makes two choices that change everything.

For months, the DEA has been chasing the drug supply in the mountains to no avail, when a lead--just one word--sets one agent on a path to crack the case wide open...but he'll need help from the most unexpected quarter.

As chance brings together these men from different sides of a relentless epidemic, each may come to find that his opportunity for redemption lies with the others.

One

Rain bled over the dusty windshield. Raymond Mathis wrung the steering wheel in his fists trying to remember if there was anything left worth taking. The front door of his house stood open and from the driveway he knew who'd broken in. Fact was, if it wasn't nailed down, it was already gone. What pawned easily went first and now the boy stole anything that looked like it might hold any value at all.

Across the yard, the last of Ray's dogs bawled from the kennel. There'd been a time when he bred the best squirrel and coon dogs ever to come out of Jackson County, a line of black-and-tan mountain feists that'd tree anything that climbed. He'd raised beagles to run rabbits through bramble back before outsiders riddled the land with no trespassing signs, and this was the last of them: a lean bitch named Tommy Two-Ton who was grayed in the face and shook on her hind legs as she balanced against bowed chicken wire.

Crossing the yard, Ray was thankful the boy had at least put the dog up ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

I found myself loving When These Mountains Burn by its conclusion, and recommend it to readers who enjoy truly well-written and heartfelt fiction. Its rich, relevant themes surrounding the ravages caused by drug addiction and the slow demise of Appalachian culture are sure to make this one a winner for many, and will undoubtedly draw new fans to David Joy's works...continued

Full Review (828 words).

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(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Slow-burning...With memorable characters, deft plotting, and an attention to detail, Joy has written a powerful work of crime fiction.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[A]n engrossing drama of violence and vengeance...Joy handles everything with ease, proving himself to be one hell of a writer.

Booklist
Joy portrays his characters with unflinching realism. Creative turns of phrase and creative colloquialisms move the story forward and keep the otherwise disheartening subject matter full of thrilling surprises. As Southern noir-tinged fiction gains a well-deserved audience, Joy is one voice that never disappoints.

Author Blurb Joe R. Lansdale, author of The Elephant of Surprise
This is the sort of novel I love. No world wide conspiracies, or super crimes. Just flawed folks making bad choices, then having to live with the deadly consequences. David Joy has quickly become one of my favorite authors in the tradition of such fine novelist as Larry Brown and William Gay. Highly recommended.

Author Blurb Lee Smith, author of Guests on Earth
Revelatory...Indelible characters from every side of the law converge in this fast-moving story. As fine a piece of writing as you are ever likely to encounter.

Reader Reviews

Sandi W.

Joy is gritty and in your face...
I enjoy books by David Joy due to their grit and salt of the earth presentation. The blatant in-your-face, no-holds-barred story telling. Stories told clear and precise. Joy tells stories that other authors placate and tell through assumptions and ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI)

Bridge over Oconaluftee River in Cherokee, NC David Joy's novel When These Mountains Burn is set in and around the town of Cherokee, North Carolina, which is situated in the far western corner of the state, abutting Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cherokee is the capital and cultural center of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and is located in an area known as The Qualla Boundary, or simply The Qualla. This 100-square-mile parcel of land isn't a reservation; it was purchased by the EBCI from the United States federal government and is considered a sovereign nation.

The mountains known today as the Southern Appalachians were home to the Cherokee people for centuries before the arrival of Europeans. The Cherokees made some attempts to adapt to the culture and rules...

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