MysteryPeople Review: BULL MOUNTAIN by Brian Panowich

bull mountainBrian Panowich joins us Saturday, July 11, at 5 PM on BookPeople’s second floor for a Happy Hour celebrating the release of his debut novel, Bull Mountain. Panowich is joined by special musical guests The Dan Adams Band, who will perform a song written for the novel.


Post by Scott M.

Rural noir seems to be the debut genre for 2015. David Joy’s Where All Light Tends To Go and Jamie Kornegay’s Soil have already earned much deserved accolades with their darker sides of North Carolina and Mississippi. Now we go to Georgia with Brian Panowich’s Bull Mountain.

The story centers on the relationship of two brothers. Halford Burroughs keeps his family’s outlaw tradition, lording over a small meth empire that started with moonshine generations ago. His brother, Clayton, is the white sheep of the family, becoming sheriff in an adjacent county.

“Bull Mountain is a brilliant piece of brutal poetry.”

An ATF agent tells Clayton that he’s after a biker gang Halford is doing business with and will give his brother complete immunity if he flips. Wanting to save his remaining family member (his other brother recently shot down in a standoff with the law). Clayton treks up Bull Mountain to meet up with his brother, getting himself up for one hell of a fall.

Brian Panowich’s writing is a great example of craft meeting art. He constructs each chapter as its own well-crafted short story, often moving deftly and clearly between past and present. He expands past Clayton and Halford’s relationship to look at different shades of family and ideas of honor tied to it. The result in a narrative mosaic that builds in drama and emotional punch, the clearer the full picture becomes.

Bull Mountain is a brilliant piece of brutal poetry. It takes its characters on their own terms and allows us to understand them and the cycle of violence they generate. Pretty much cemented my belief that rural noir genre has many unseen places to go.


You can find copies of Bull Mountain on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

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