Joy of­fers a thrilling tale of vengeance

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - WEEKEND - BRUCE DE­SILVA

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.

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