This suspenseful tale pits two families against each other in the sparsely populated Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania.
Jake Brewer is a Vietnam veteran battling PTSD, praying his faith in God will get him through it. As the story opens, Jake and his wife Jeanne arrive at their home in the midst of a snow storm to find someone has broken in, vandalizing it and stealing various items, including denatured alcohol and rat poison.
A glimpse of the escaping intruder and tracks in the snow lead them to believe the culprit is Bung Slater, a severely retarded member of the Slater family, a fourth-generation mountain family comprised largely of violent criminals. When Bung’s brother Link Slater is paroled early from the penitentiary where he served time for the latest in a long string of crimes, the violence in the mountain community escalates, including the near-rape of Jeanne Brewer.
As Jake and Jeanne grapple with the continued trouble from the Slaters, Jake is also struggling with the company he works for over reorganization plans that will cheat employees out of earned bonuses and profit sharing.
This novel is a page turner from the start, with well-written, tense scenes and complex characters in Jake and Jeanne, both with imperfect pasts and a marriage that has at times struggled, but endured and is the stronger for it.
However, the story also suffers from stereotypical characters, including the largely one-dimensional Slaters; the family friend Misty who is a shallow flirt and cruel wife; the aggressive local reporter who is out to malign the Brewers; and the D.A. who inexplicably supports the Slaters, despite their history of violent crime. Likewise, some scenes, such as when the hardware store worker accuses Jake of intentionally poisoning Bung Slater, don’t ring quite true.
For those willing to overlook these weaknesses, the story delivers page-turning action and a likeable protagonist readers will cheer for.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.