The book opens with a bang - and a murder that leaves the reader wanting more - who, why and more. Dane Kirby is a former arson investigator and now works for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. He's surprised and more than a little reluctant when he is called in to consult on the murder scene in Florida. And his new partner FBI Special Agent Roselita Velasquez doesn't want him there any more than he wants to be there. But there's an eleven year old boy with Aspergers out there all alone - and everyone has their own reasons for wanting to find him. So Kirby signs on.
Okay, where to start? I really liked Kirby as a lead. He's fighting his own demons - and ghosts - even as he tries to move forward with life. He's street smart and book smart, and as a born and bred McFalls County, Georgia resident he knows all the players. And there are some really dark, ruthless and downright frightening characters in this book. (Gentle readers this one's not for you!) The supporting characters are just as strongly written. The reader will have immediate reactions to each and every character. You'll be behind those you would think should be behind bars and question those with badges.
The setting and atmosphere is just as much of a character in the books. Panowich makes his home in Georgia and the setting greatly benefits from that personal knowledge. Panowich's plotting is intricate and will keep the reader on their toes as another layer and direction is added to the narrative. And truly, there was no predicting what I was going to find in the final pages.
But, it comes back to the characters for me. Each and every one of them is chasing something - money, redemption, love, the past or maybe the future. And who finds what in the end sits just right for me.
Southern grit-lit at it's finest. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of Hard Cash Valley.
This is actually the third book in Panowich's 'Bull Mountain' series. I had no problem reading this as a stand alone, but I'll be putting those first two books, Bull Mountain and Like Lions on my ever growing TBR list. And I'll be watching for his fourth book.