A young man’s painful (and dangerous) attempt to return to the hometown he fled years before.
Baxter Parish, Louisiana, is swampy, fiercely hot, and poor as sin. It’s also run by a corrupt band of redneck cops and cornpone politicos who might have stepped off the pages of All the King’s Men. Jesse Tadlock grew up here, so he’s inclined to take the place for granted. But he’s just come back after 12 years in the army, most of that on a base in Germany, so he does have something of an outsider’s eye. Having just inherited $30,000 from his recently deceased mother, he decides to pass on reenlistment and settle down back home. The local sheriff, a family friend, finds room in the payroll to take Jesse on as a deputy, and his inheritance money is just enough to buy a little cabin and a few acres of land that had been repossessed in a foreclosure. But that’s exactly where Jesse’s luck turns bad. Shortly after moving in, he’s confronted by Balem Moxley, whose late sister lost the cabin to the bank. Moxley tells him bluntly to leave the property within 72 hours. Jesse goes to the sheriff, who stuns him by telling Jesse to do as Moxley says—and threatens to withdraw his job offer if he doesn’t. The more Jesse learns about Moxley, the uglier he sounds—a shadowy local who supports himself as a police informer, drug dealer, and hog rustler. Better to cut and run? Maybe. But Jesse is stubborn. With the help of his uncle Red, he decides to fight Moxley on his own terms, something that will require a rather large arsenal of guns, detonator caps, pipe bombs, and grenades.
A very slick debut tale, colorful and taut, that takes us into a crazy world and, at the close, brings us out alive.