“Rough and ready suspense, encompassing a wide array of characters from the sour side of life” from the author of Frank Sinatra in a Blender (Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone).
In Gasconade County, Missouri—once called the meth capital of the world—Deputy Sheriff Dale Banks discovers $52,000 hidden in the broken-down trailer that Jerry Dean Skaggs uses for cooking crystal. And he takes it. Banks knows what he did was wrong, but he did it for all the right reasons. At least, he thinks so. But for every wrong, there is a consequence.
Jerry Dean can’t afford to lose that $52,000—he owes it to his partners and to a crooked cop. He also can’t afford to disappoint the crazed and fearsome Reverend Butch Pogue, who is expecting Jerry Dean to deliver the chemicals the reverend needs for his next batch of meth. To avoid the holy man’s wrath, Jerry Dean sets in motion a series of events that will threaten Banks’s family, his life, and everything he thinks he knows about the world.
Set in Missouri's Gasconade County, once labeled the methamphetamine capital of the world, this smoldering tale pits cop against dope dealer/desperate redneck against even more desperate redneck. In this rural area, "White-trash pharmacies run from beaten-down mobile homes at the end of dead-end roads would always trade pills for dope." Deputy Sheriff Dale Everett Banks finds $52,000 in the trailer of meth dealer Jerry Dean Skaggs, and decides to keep it. Jerry Dean needs that money to keep his secret partners happy. The plot spreads out to include more and more county residents, even Butch Pogue in his hilltop compound where he practices a weird religion and keeps his latest "wife" locked in the cellar. You know you're talking authentic hillbilly when the main characters each weigh 300 pounds. Gasconade local McBride (whose previous book was the cult favorite Frank Sinatra in a Blender) gives Breaking Bad fans more down and dirty meth action.
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Highly Lyrical, Seriously Gritty
Review: A SWOLLEN RED SUN by Matthew McBride
A long, close-up look at the very gritty underbelly of low-life crime in the Great Plains, couched in what has to be the most lyrical, poetic, sense-intriguing prose-poetry. I would never want to live the lives some of these characters do--never want the dangers, the crime, the temptations; but, oh, to live in these utterly gorgeous surrounds! Crime just doesn't seem quite like this, in the streets of New York City nor L.A., Detroit, Chicago, nor Atlanta. But human nature basically remains the same. This is a powerfully impacting story.
I received an ARC from Open Integrated Media (Mysterious Press, Inc) for **A Swollen Red Sun** by *Matthew McBride* in exchange for an unbiased review. My thanks to Open Road Media for allowing me to read and review this book.
The Author, *Matthew McBride*, begins his book with a note to the readers, telling us that the places he's described in the book are all real. He also says that Gasconade County was once considered the methamphetamine capital of the world. In spite of that, many hardworking, honest people live there. So do a few degenerates. It's the degerates McBride writes about, and that's pure gold for his readers, because to my way of thinking, those degenerates make for the best stories.
The story begins with Deputy Sheriff Dale Everett Banks and Deputy Bo Hastings at Jerry Dean Skaggs' (ever notice the degerates are often named Skaggs?) trailer. Jerry Dean is on parole for shooting a bald eagle, and Banks means to take him back to jail. Jerry Dean is a meth-head and will not go easily. When Banks and Hastings knock the trailer door down, they find evidence that Jerry Dean has been cooking meth which, of course, would be a parole violation, and all the more reason to put Jerry Dean back behind bars.
It's Banks who is the constant presence in this story, and he is very clear about what his role in life is to be: go home alive to his wife and kids. Not that he doesn't do his job effectively; he just won't be shot by "some tweaker". The trick is, can he make it to the end of the book alive when there are some pretty hardnosed bad guys trying to outsmart the law at every corner.
Some of the gang eager for the law to go away are: Reverend Butch Pogue who can spend a whole afternoon butchering horses because he prefers horse meat to any other; Junior, Reverend Pogue's son who is roughly 5 cupcakes short of a baker's dozen; Jackson Brandt, who works with Jerry Dean Skaggs in whatever capacity is needed, but who sometimes seems reluctant to follow an outlaw's path; and Olen Brandt, an 81 year old rancher whose body is letting him down lately. There's also Reverend Pogue's new wife, a whole lot of money, and a hiding place no one in his or her right mind would guess.
McBride has brought together a very interesting bunch of people and then let them have at it. For me, this was a 5 stars novel, and I look forward to what else McBride can do. Keep those degenerates coming!