In this poetic and haunting tale set in contemporary Appalachia, New York Times bestselling author Ron Rash illuminates lives shaped by violence and a powerful connection to the land.
Les, a long-time sheriff just three-weeks from retirement, contends with the ravages of crystal meth and his own duplicity in his small Appalachian town.
Becky, a park ranger with a harrowing past, finds solace amid the lyrical beauty of this patch of North Carolina.
Enduring the mistakes and tragedies that have indelibly marked them, they are drawn together by a reverence for the natural world. When an irascible elderly local is accused of poisoning a trout stream, Les and Becky are plunged into deep and dangerous waters, forced to navigate currents of disillusionment and betrayal that will force them to question themselves and test their tentative bond—and threaten to carry them over the edge.
Echoing the heartbreaking beauty of William Faulkner and the spiritual isolation of Carson McCullers, Above the Waterfall demonstrates once again the prodigious talent of “a gorgeous, brutal writer” (Richard Price) hailed as “one of the great American authors at work today” (Janet Maslin, New York Times).
Rash's (Nothing Gold Can Stay) widely celebrated style lends his Southern Gothic tinged books a suppleness that verges on prose poetry and, in the case of his new novel, elevates a small-town noir story. Les is a gentle sheriff on the verge of retirement in meth-wracked Appalachia, troubled by the petty rivalries that tear at his North Carolina community and his uncertain love affair with park ranger Becky Lytle. Following a nightmarish raid on a meth house, Les becomes drawn into the case of Gerald Blackwelder, a local eccentric accused of poisoning a trout stream in a land dispute. Gerald's only advocate is Becky but as a one-time associate of an infamous ecoterrorist named Richard Pelfrey, she's been wrong before. Operating on opposing sides of an intrigue that touches on family quarrels and sins of the past, Les and Becky unearth a caper heavy in rich Southern crime and violence, one that's a cut above the rest. Rash writes prose so beautifully that plot and character can come to seem like mere adornments, and certain touches such the poems Les writes in his off-hours feel like showcases. But there's no denying Rash's grasp of the North Carolina landscape and its reflection in the oft-tortured souls of its denizens, making this novel one of his most successful ventures into poetic humanism.