Joy offers a thrilling tale of vengeance
The Line That Held Us David Joy Putnam
Life is hard in the corner of the Smoky Mountains where the Hooper, Moody and Brewer families live. Drug abuse is rampant. Jobs are scarce. And some folks put food on the table and money in their pockets by poaching.
Darl Moody and Carol “Sissy” Brewer are both doing just that one chilly morning. Unfortunately, they’ re doing it in the same place. Sissy is on his hands and knees, stealing a neighbour’s ginseng crop. Darl is in a blind, hoping to shoot a deer out of season. But Dar lends up shooting Sissy.
The Line That Held Us is David Joy’ s third novel about life in this region where family roots run deep and where some folks live by a code that puts them outside of the law. The book’s title is in the past tense because in this tale, the line between civility and brutality doesn’t hold.
In a panic, Darl asks his best friend Calvin Hooper to help him cover up the accident by burying Sissy’s body. Calvin wants to call the police, but he relents when Darl reminds him what Sissy’s big bother Dwayne Brewer is like. He’s a hard-drinking brute who spends his time brawling, breaking down and reassembling his pistol, stealing chainsaws, re reading his Bible and resenting neighbours and tourists who have it easier thanhedoes.
Devoted to family despite his abusive childhood, Dwayne deeply loves sweet, simpleminded Sissy and has been known to brutally beat anyone who bullies the younger brother.
When Sissy fails to return from his ginseng poaching trip, both Dwayne and a by-thebook police detective he doesn’ t respect set out to learnwhy.
The result is a chilling tale of vengeance that ends well for no one. It is well told in a voice that is lyrical in its descriptions of the region’s natural beauty and graphic in its depictions of violence and death, but it isn’t a book for fans of thrillers or whodunits in which the good guys always win.