Rot in Rural America: MysteryPeople Reviews THE MORE THEY DISAPPEAR by Jesse Donaldson

Come by BookPeople this Friday, August 26th, at 7 PM, for an evening with Jesse Donaldson, speaking and signing his debut, The More They DisappearDonaldson is a graduate of the prestigious Michener Center for Writers, located right here in Austin, and is one of the emerging voices of our time. He will appear in conversation with Philipp Meyer, author of The Son. 

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

9781250050229Jesse Donaldson’s debut, The More They Disappear, looks deep into the darkness that causes rot in American rural towns. It uses a murder in the fictional Marathon, Kentucky to explore the ramifications of the introduction of OxyContin to small-town America in the early nineties. Donaldson argues that, at the time, corruption was making those places ready to be taken by anything.

Events are set in motion as Lew Mattock, the sheriff of Marathon, is shot by a sniper at his own fundraiser. The killer, Mary Jane Finley, a young woman from an upper middle class family, slips away without being noticed. Harlan Dupree, the chief deputy promoted to interim sheriff, attempts to solve the murder of his boss, a man he was at odds with.

Since we know Mary Jane is the killer, the book becomes more of a whydunit than a whodunit. We learn Mary-Jane’s history that lead her to drugs and murder. The description of her first time with Oxy beautifully explains the drug. As Harlan closes in on her we’re given a tour of Marathon’s underbelly and criminal connections. He goes up against both the political and class system, learning Mary Jane is just one part of a larger crime and that she may be a victim as well. With Harlan snooping around in a town so small everyone, including the guilty, can see him snooping, the tension builds for characters and readers alike.

The More They Disappear is both visceral and nuanced. Much like Ace Atkins’ latest novel, The Innocents, it rages at small town indifference and speaks for the unspoken. Here though, there are no Quinn Colson heroes, only victims.

You can find copies of The More They Disappear on our shelves and via

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