Code of the Hills

Grove Atlantic. (Mick Hardin, Bk. 3). Jun. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9780802161918. $27. M
After 20 years in the army, Mick Hardin retires and returns home to Rocksalt, KY, where his sister, Linda, is the sheriff. Something odd is going on in the community. Two men are found dead, killed by shotguns, and the only connection the sheriff’s department can find is cockfighting. When Linda approaches an isolated house in the hills, she hears yelling, a gunshot, and then she is critically wounded. Her deputy, Johnny Boy, realizing Mick has more experience in criminal investigations than he does, deputizes Mick—despite a conflict of interest. Mick may have more experience, but he and Johnny Boy share an instinct for vengeance, bred into them by the code of the hills, to take care of family and community. Mick heads to Detroit, following a possible witness to Linda’s shooting. But it’s Johnny Boy’s recognition of a figure from the past, which reminds them both that what is lawful isn’t always justice, especially in the hills.
VERDICT The writing in the follow-up to Shifty’s Boys is as beautifully descriptive of the scenes in Detroit as in the Kentucky hills. Offutt’s Mick Hardin novels are powerful books that feature characters with questionable ethics.
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