From a small rural southern world of guns and hounds and whiskey, Mississippi writer Brown (Joe, 1991, etc.) fashions a redneck tragedy of timeless dimensions--a novel in which fate drives the plot to its necessarily bloody denouement. A portrait of true evil is at the heart of this sad tale of betrayal and revenge, with its almost casual allusions to fratricide, parricide, and incest. Evil has a name: Glen Davis, the bad seed of Virgil and Emma, who arrives back in town after serving three years for vehicular homicide in Parchman penitentiary, where he seems to have nursed his grudges and hates, all of which he settles in the few days covered in this novel. High on his list of unfinished business is his old lover, Jewel, the mother of a four-year-old boy he refuses to acknowledge. Faithful through his prison stay, Jewel realizes how hopeless their future is, and when Glen returns, she turns to Bobby Blanchard, the sheriff who loves her and whose own history is closely tied to Glen's. In his first hours back home, Glen robs, rapes, and murders, proving beyond a doubt his bone-level badness. Without forgiving Glen's behavior, Brown sketches in his troubled past: the accidental shooting of his brother Theron, his mother's bizarre sexual behavior, and her relentless fixation on the idea that Blanchard's widowed mother is her husband's true love--which isn't so far from the truth, though they've always behaved honorably. Meanwhile, Bobby's job brings him face to face with evil's many forms: a hillbilly dad who kills his crying son, a grownup man who kills his daddy, and the just plain inexplicable fate that takes an 11-year-old's life by drowning. Providential order asserts itself in Glen's bloody punishment--a punishment he not only deserves but seems, finally, to invite. A riveting tale of an unforgiving and cruel world.