Fields’ sequel to Twin River (2013) sees a killer for hire enter the lives of two troubled Pennsylvania teens.
Polecat Hollow, near Alexandria, Pennsylvania, is home to high school sophomores Matt Henry and Connor Brooks. It’s 1980, and the boys have had trouble with local bullies Cain and Abel Tower as well as other assorted felons (see Twin River). Insisting to any inquiring party that his father, a bank manager, is on vacation, Matt decides to hire some protection for himself and the bank. A newspaper ad leads him to a man named Wesley Palladin of the agency Have Weapons Will Travel. Unbeknownst to Matt, Palladin is a contract killer for the mob, embroiled in a complex bait-and-switch operation that has other killers gunning for him. Cain and Abel, meanwhile, are terrorizing a teen named Wayne Wilson, whose sister, Becky, Cain has impregnated. Elsewhere in the region—which is possessed by a violent legacy dating back to the mid-18th century—a vile gang of kidnappers is using high school girls to make pornographic videos. Once drawn together, Matt and Palladin learn just how alike they are as they wage war against the various forms of evil that nearby Blood Mountain seems to inspire. Snaring readers once more in the sinister rural setting of Twin River, author Fields proves himself a macabre, versatile storyteller. The tone of his sprawling narrative darkens immediately, beginning on a river in late ’60s Florida. On this fishing trip–turned-murder, young Palladin’s father teaches him that “The best and the strongest destroy and survive.” Fields’ gift for detailing violence is always at the ready: “Pulled by the treble [fish] hooks, the man’s skin stretched outward.” Yet the descriptions of nature are lush, and literary references to Catcher in the Rye are a welcome surprise: “A person needs to catch himself first before he can catch others.” If possible, readers should tackle the previous novel beforehand for better context surrounding characters’ relationships. Standing alone, however, this tale remains incredibly effective.
This grisly thriller will sink its teeth right in you.