Complex Almost Anti-Hero Leads Layered World Into Promising New Series. This is one of those books that touches on a lot of things – the opioid epidemic, the crash of coal in the push for so-called “green” energy, land speculation, family, the complexities of being on the right side of the “law” when your family isn’t, high school romance and the fallout thereof, traditional Southern living vs the newer get-rich-quick ethos… and even a strong dash of the militia movement and the mistakes on both sides of Ruby Ridge and Waco and the long shadows both of those events cast in certain communities. In the process, it creates a truly layered and compelling world that while just as complex as our own, still allows for a high degree of escapism (for most). And yet, it is also a brutal tale of survival and betrayal, of losing yourself and finding yourself over and over and over again. Of trying to become something you want to be, even as your community and even family are doing their damndest to drag you in other directions. Overall truly a remarkable tale for what it is, and one I am very much looking forward to coming back into this world. Very much recommended.
This review of The Moonshine Messiah by Russell W. Johnson was originally written on May 9, 2023.
Tess And Po With Elements Of Reacher And The Lottery. This is only my second Tess and Po book, but I’ve quickly fallen in love… and noticed the basic pattern. (Which is the same basic pattern most books of this type have. Brief interlude of “normal life” leads into some inciting incident – in this case, Tess and Po stumbling into a mother and child in peril – leads to an investigation which leads to action. It is a successful pattern given how often it is employed across so many books, and it is well executed here.) When we get to the investigation/ action stages is when this book evokes one of the more memorable Reacher tales due to the similarity of the enemy faced (controlling militia type). And then we bring in elements of the ultra-creepy The Lottery to boot. Completely a Tess and Po story, but the common elements serve to enhance it even more (assuming you’ve read those tales, anyway :D). A final note: This *is* deep in a series of investigative/ police procedurals. It can work as a standalone/ entry point as long as you don’t mind seeing more advanced stages of the investigative team’s life together, but if you’re a reader that doesn’t like any level of spoiler of previous books, you’re going to want to start at Book 1 and get to here. Because if you do start at Book 1… just go ahead and buy the entire series. You’re going to want to have them on hand as you finish each one anyway. Hell, I’m already wishing I had Book 9 in my hands, and this one doesn’t even release to the public for nearly a month! Very much recommended.
This Review of Blood Kin by Matt Hilton was originally written on July 7, 2021.