Mick Hardin is home on leave,
recovering from an IED attack, when a body is found in the center of town. It’s
Barney Kissick, the local heroin dealer, and the city police see it as an
occupational hazard. But when Barney’s mother, Shifty, asks Mick to take a
look, it seems there’s more to the killing than it seems. Mick should be
rehabbing his leg, signing his divorce papers, and getting out of town–and most
of all, staying out of the way of his sister Linda’s reelection as Sheriff–but
he keeps on looking, and suddenly he’s getting shot at himself.A dark, pacy crime novel about grief and revenge, and the surprises hidden below the surface, Shifty’s Boys
is a tour de force that confirms Chris Offutt’s Mick Hardin as one of the
most appealing new investigators in fiction.
My thoughts: I like Mick, I don’t entirely understand his relationship with his Sheriff sister but he does at least try to get answers legally, before having to bring out the big guns and leave a nice mess for the Feds to sort out.
What at first looks like a falling out between rival drug dealers takes in a lot more – private military, illegal waste dumping, climate crisis, fracking, and most importantly of all – the complicated messes that are families.
Shifty’s sons are for the most part criminals or useless, except for Ray-Ray, who joined the Marines. He comes home to bury his brothers and joins forces with Mick to get revenge for his family. The law in the hills is a little different to the law in town.
Mick’s a complicated character, between the divorce papers he hasn’t signed, the fragile truce with his sister, the way his grandfather raised him in the woods, he’s interesting. I want to read more – even if he has to head back to the army now his leg’s getting better.
This isn’t a long book, it’s sparing with description, but there’s a lot that happens in its pages, drawing you into a world hidden quietly away in the Kentucky hills, where things are done as they always have been, and where justice isn’t necessarily handed down by a judge.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.