Country Noir: Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke

“That was the thing about second changes—it was impossible to know what was real or what wasn’t; every act of forgiveness was a leap of faith.”

Texas Ranger Darren Matthews is finally starting to get his life together after the events of Bluebird, Bluebird.  He is back on the job.  If it at a desk, the time home is allowing him to repair his relationship with his wife, and he is doing important work on a federal-state task force building a case against the Aryan Brotherhood.  His drinking is under control.  The only hitch is his no-account mother blackmailing him, but everything really goes to shit when a boy goes missing on the Texas-Louisiana border.

Heaven, My Home is the second book in Locke’s Highway 59 Mystery series.

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Music Monday: Okie From Muskogee by Merle Haggard

Sunday will be the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest and most debated songs in country music history: Okie From Muskogee by working-class poet Merle Haggard.  Ken Burns’ country music documentary on PBS, coincidentally, introduced the Hag last night and will cover Okie From Muskogee tonight.  I cheated and went ahead and streamed tonight’s episode last night.  If you are looking for a definitive answer as to whether Merle was being serious or tongue-in-cheek, you aren’t going to get it.  Why do I think there is a fairly straightforward answer, when even Tyler Coe poring over the song for over an hour doesn’t get there?  Let me tell you.

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SF: Desper Hollow by Elizabeth Massie

Just a couple of weeks ago I was talking about how a crime story fit uneasily into a second-world fantasy shell.  A country noir shell, on the other hand, is an excellent fit for any number of sorts of SF stories.  Including a zombie yarn.  Desper Hollow is just that: a country noir zombie fantasy set deep in the hollers of Virginia.

The framing that opens the book and slow reveals the zombie angle is a little weird and unwieldy, but it builds to an incredibly taut set piece in the final third of the book.

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Music Monday: All Your’n by Tyler Childers

no-angel’s favorite videos include Baby Shark, The Wheels on the Bus, Farmer in the Dell,…and All Your’n by Tyler Childers.  A music video about a man suffering drug-induced hallucinations probably isn’t the best influence on a toddler, but a little good music won’t hurt her and I can use the break.

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Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Spooky Country Noir Reads

I did not move this far north to deal with near 90 degree temps in September.  I love the fall, and that means crisp temps, college football, and . . . Halloween.  And, for me, Halloween means reading.  Really, all of those things mean reading, because I really like reading.  Not reading horror, necessarily, but the Halloween season is an exception.  In the past I have focused on older horror at Every Day Should Be Tuesday, running a series of posts on Frankenstein and a series of posts on the horror of Robert E. Howard.  This year I am bringing it home to Hillbilly Highways.  Ghost stories are a rich part of my cultural heritage, and country noir offers plenty of spooky options.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings.

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The Harp of Kings is a character-driven, Celtic fantasy

There is a rich vein of Celtic history and mythology that runs from The Harp of Kings and pre-Christian Ireland all the way to Alex Bledsoe’s Tufa novels and Appalachia. The Harp of Kings benefits from that rich history, creating something with greater resonance than the pale imitation of an imitation fantasy that has clogged the genre over the past few decades. But it is really the characters, not the worldbuilding, that carries The Harp of Kings.

Every Day Should Be Tuesday

“A person can never hear too many tales.  Tales are like honey cakes.  Once you have tasted one, you want another, and another, and always more.”

There is a rich vein of Celtic history and mythology that runs from The Harp of Kings and pre-Christian Ireland all the way to Alex Bledsoe’s Tufa novels and Appalachia.  The Harp of Kings benefits from that rich history, creating something with greater resonance than the pale imitation of an imitation fantasy that has clogged the genre over the past few decades.  But it is really the characters, not the worldbuilding, that carries The Harp of Kings.

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