Country Noir: Panther Gap by James McLaughlin

James McLaughlin’s debut novel Bearskin was one of my favorite books from a few years ago, so of course I jumped on his follow-up Panther Gap.

Siblings Bowman and Summer were raised by their father and two uncles on a remote Colorado ranch. They react differently to his radical teachings and the confusions of adolescence. As young adults, they become estranged but are brought back together in their thirties by the prospect of an illegal and potentially dangerous inheritance from their grandfather. They must ultimately reconcile with each other and their past in order to defeat ruthless criminal forces trying to extort the inheritance.

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Country Noir: It Dies With You by Scott Blackburn

For nearly a decade, twenty-nine-year-old Hudson Miller has made his living in the boxing ring, but a post-fight brawl threatens to derail his career. Desperate for money, Hudson takes a gig as a bouncer at a dive bar. That’s when life delivers him another hook to the jaw: his estranged father, Leland, has been murdered in what appears to be a robbery-gone-bad at his salvage yard, Miller’s Pull-a-Part.

That is NOT the North Carolina Piedmont
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SF: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

I’ve been saying for a while that we need more stories that fall into the overlap between country noir and speculative fiction.  The hollers and dark dirt roads that host country noir yarns have their own rich tradition of myths and folk tales.  And speculative elements, perhaps especially horror, dovetail well with the bones of a country noir story—better than, certainly, romance or even mystery.  In his novel The Only Good Indians, Stephen Graham Jones combines supernatural horror and rez noir (a kissing cousin to country noir).  Four young Blackfeet Indians committed some great sin on an elk hunt years ago, and an angry spirit of sorts is looking for bloody restitution.

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Country Noir: The Sweet Goodbye by Ron Corbett

The mountains of North Carolina are my favorite country noir setting for the simple reason that they are home, and there is a rich tradition of country noir set in the Ozarks that we can probably credit to Daniel Woodrell, but it is always nice to get the chance to visit someplace new via fiction.  The Sweet Goodbye is set in the North Maine Woods in the vast, empty, northernmost reaches of the contiguous states.

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Short Review Roundup – Fiction edition, part 2

Welcome back to another short review roundup!  Today I feature a couple of novels.  One I will give short shrift because it is a sequel, and the first book in the series does all the heavy lifting of convincing a reader to pick up the next one.  The other is a fine book but a bit too far afield to write extensively about on this blog.  Both are worth picking up, notwithstanding the truncated reviews.

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Music Monday: Celtic Punk Edition, Part 2

The last two years have been hard on a lot of people for a lot of reasons.  Lost jobs, lost loved ones, and weeks spent laid up sick.  Losing live music seems like a pretty light burden to bear, but music is one of the main things that helps us deal with hard times.  The return of live music is one of the things I was looking forward to most as the pandemic wanes.  The last indoor concert I went to was Chris Knight in Oklahoma City way back in February of 2020.  My first post-lockdown indoor concert was Dropkick Murphys with The Rumjacks opening (along with a couple other acts).

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Music Monday: Come Out Ye Black and Tans by The Wolfe Tones

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a massacre of 14 unarmed civilians by British soldiers at a protest in Northern Ireland.  The initial investigation by the British government was a whitewash in which they let themselves off the hook.  A much later second investigation repudiated the first and resulted in a formal government apology.

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