MYSTERY

Pickard County Atlas

Farrar. Jan. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780374231255. $26. M
COPY ISBN
DEBUT Deputy Harley Jensen recognizes every house and piece of land in Pickard County, NE, as he patrols at night. He has a routine, disturbed only when he ventures back to the house where his mother killed herself with a shotgun. Occasionally, he runs into Paul Reddick, a lost soul since the day his older brother Dell Jr. was killed at the age of seven. Dell Jr.’s body was never found, and 18 years later, his father finally holds a service and places a stone. But it’s too late for the Reddicks. Paul has always been a troublemaker and instigator, and Harley has watched him for years. It’s rumored that Mrs. Reddick is crazy and doesn’t leave the house. Paul’s brother, Rick, is married to Pam, whom he loves, and has a daughter. But Pam feels trapped and tries to walk out until her mother warns her she’s stuck until her daughter turns 18. In a story of misunderstandings and judgments, Harley and the Reddicks are on a collision course that will end in tragedy.
VERDICT Thornton’s debut rural noir is grim, with a foreboding atmosphere and a story that does not grow more hopeful. Fans of Laura McHugh’s The Wolf Wants In may appreciate this dark book.

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