The worn-down mountains and fertile river valleys of northeastern Pennsylvania hide some dreadful secrets.
Officer Henry Farrell has returned, bereft and mentally damaged, from Wyoming to the land of his birth after his wife died from a number of health problems he suspects were related to fracking. In Henry’s quiet corner of Pennsylvania, hardscrabble dairy farms and small businesses struggle for survival. For years, there have been few jobs and plenty of poverty. But that’s all being changed by the influx of companies leasing land for gas drilling. When the body of a young man is found on the property of Aub Dunigan, and Danny Stiobhard appears at a local clinic to have buckshot picked out of his side after Aub “accidentally” shoots him, Henry realizes he’ll have to call in both the sheriff and the state police. Aub, who’s suffering from dementia, has little to say, and Danny takes off before the police can ask too many questions. Life only gets more complicated when Henry’s deputy, George Ellis, is shot dead and Henry discovers a well-hidden old grave on Aub’s property. Henry went to school with many of his suspects and believes that, despite their casual thievery and poaching, most of them are incapable of murder. But the drilling has brought an influx of out-of-state workers, set neighbor against neighbor, and opened the door to dangerous meth cookers and heroin pushers who’ve set up business in remote locations. The key to solving Henry’s case may lie in a remarkably well-preserved body found in the hidden grave.
Bouman’s debut shows rural noir at its finest: a poetically written mystery about a man struggling with his inner demons and an area of great natural beauty few had heard of before the natural gas boom.