The Killing Hills

Grove. Jun. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9780802158413. $26. M
Mick Hardin, a combat veteran, works in the Criminal Investigation Division, specializing in homicide. He’s home in Morehead, KY, on family leave because his wife is about to give birth, but they’re having problems. Instead of sleeping at home, he stays at his grandfather’s old cabin in the Kentucky hills. It’s the perfect home base for helping his sister Linda, who’s the sheriff. She’s dealing with her first murder, but all the local big shots want her off the case, and they call in the FBI. Mick is the one, though, who knows the hills, the woods, and the families involved. He knows that local family connections can lead to long-running feuds and more death. The local murder investigation and his marital problems are reminders of a culture where blood family is everything, and there’s nothing worse than betrayal. Mick’s quiet observations and solutions to murder and drug cases will help him solve his own problems too.
VERDICT Offutt (Country Dark; Kentucky Straight) has a reflective voice and a spare use of language. Hardin is an unforgettable character trapped between his army life and the “eye-for-an-eye” culture of rural Kentucky. Readers of James Anderson will appreciate this thoughtful mystery with a strong sense of place.
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