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.
The copy for It Dies With You namechecks David Joy and Brian Panowich. If you are first and foremost a fan of Joy and Panowich and pick this book up for that reason, then you are probably going to walk away disappointed. Especially if you’re more a fan of Joy than Panowich. The copy describes it as searing and literary, but I don’t see much of either. Mostly it is bitching about the closedmindedness of small-town life. New York publishing types eat that shit up, I’m sure, but it ain’t nothing that ain’t been done a hundred times before and better.
The plot is similarly not-searing. Things proceed in fairly predictable—or at least not shocking—fashion. Blackburn leaves the Chekhov’s Gun of Hudson’s boxing abilities hanging on the wall. There isn’t much action at all, to be honest.
None of this is to say that this is a bad book. Its sins are limited to perhaps some blandness. It didn’t knock my socks off, but I otherwise found it a bit of perfectly enjoyable, popcorn entertainment.
3 of 5 Stars.