With Gods of Howl Mountain, Brown has given us a book that is right up the Hillbilly Highways alley gravel backroad. It’s got granny women, moonshine, revenuers, moonshine runners, early stock car racing (with an appearance by Junior Johnson), end-of-the-road roadhouses and whorehouses, snake handlers, and an entire valley lost to the hillbillies so a dam could power the mills where the former farmers work for another man. All nestled up in the mountains of northwest North Carolina where heading to civilization means Boone or Wilkesboro.
And all described by Brown with prose that is beautiful and powerful without being inaccessible or overly literary. The prose reminds me a lot of another great country noir that I will be talking about in the nearish future, Bearskin by James McLaughlin; more so than, say, Daniel Woodrell or especially Cormac McCarthy.