I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on July 7th 2015
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
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From a remarkable new voice in Southern fiction, a multigenerational saga of crime, family, and vengeance.
Clayton Burroughs comes from a long line of outlaws. For generations, the Burroughs clan has made its home on Bull Mountain in North Georgia, running shine, pot, and meth over six state lines, virtually untouched by the rule of law. To distance himself from his family’s criminal empire, Clayton took the job of sheriff in a neighboring community to keep what peace he can. But when a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms shows up at Clayton’s office with a plan to shut down the mountain, his hidden agenda will pit brother against brother, test loyalties, and could lead Clayton down a path to self-destruction.
In a sweeping narrative spanning decades and told from alternating points of view, the novel brilliantly evokes the atmosphere of the mountain and its inhabitants: forbidding, loyal, gritty, and ruthless. A story of family—the lengths men will go to protect it, honor it, or in some cases destroy it—Bull Mountain is an incredibly assured debut that heralds a major new talent in fiction.
‘Cooper Burroughs sat and chewed tobacco while he watched his nine-year-old son dig his first grave. There was more lesson in that than in killin’ any eight-point buck.’
Bull Mountain is located in the backwoods of Northern Georgia where for decades the Burroughs family has successfully evaded the law while making their living running moonshine, pot and eventually meth. Halford Burroughs is currently the man in charge of Bull Mountain while his younger brother and family outcast Clayton is the sheriff of the county. The two have managed to form a precarious truce yet fractures form when Special Agent Simon Holly arrives with the revelation that he’s there to put a stop to the Burroughs family enterprise on Bull Mountain.
‘Clayton knew he would always be welcome, but the badge had no business here at all. If a thing existed up here, it was because it belonged here. And if it didn’t belong, the people who lived here made damn sure it didn’t stay.’
Bull Mountain centers around two brothers, Halford and Clayton, but actions of their father, Gareth, from decades past, is responsible for setting in motion the current catastrophe. When Gareth Burroughs made the transition from moonshine to pot and then to meth, the need to secure his growing empire became more and more apparent. Allying himself with gun producers in Florida is the first step he takes in the wrong direction seeing as the Burroughs have always kept their business on the mountain, never asking for outside help. The alliance continues when Halford takes over, but the Feds have discovered the dealings down in Florida and have successfully traced it back to Bull Mountain. Clayton is the only one with the chance to convince his brother to sell out who he’s working with in order to avoid prosecution and to avoid the firestorm set to descend upon the land.
Hot damn. Every once in a while a book will come along that leaves you completely dumbstruck in how utterly impressive it is. Bull Mountain is one of those books for me. Even more so impressive is the fact that this is the author’s debut novel.
Not only was the labyrinthine plot that ricocheted back and forth in time and between a slew of characters handled skillfully but the brilliance of the twist that managed to alter the entire story was utterly superb. Bull Mountain is a dysfunctional saga about a family that prides themselves on loyalty that begins to be warped by the long line of violence and bloodshed. It’s a story where the line between good and bad is significantly blurred to the point of no recognition. Where even the characters can no longer see how their actions have transformed them.
According to this interview, there’s already a second book set in McFalls County and a possible third to come as well. I couldn’t be more pleased.