Thanks to Minotaur Books for the free early copy in exchange for my honest review
HARD CASH VALLEY – Brian Panowich (Released May 5th, 2020)
You can see my thoughts on LIKE LIONS here
Return to McFalls County and Bull Mountain in Hard Cash Valley, where Brian Panowich weaves another masterful tale of Southern Noir.
Dane Kirby is a broken man and no stranger to tragedy. As a life-long resident and ex-arson investigator for McFalls County, Dane has lived his life in one of the most chaotic and crime-ridden regions of the south. When he gets called in to consult on a brutal murder in a Jacksonville, Florida, motel room, he and his FBI counterpart, Special Agent Roselita Velasquez, begin an investigation that leads them back to the criminal circles of his own backyard.
Arnie Blackwell’s murder in Jacksonville is only the beginning – and Dane and Roselita seem to be one step behind. For someone is hacking a bloody trail throughout the Southeast looking for Arnie’s younger brother, a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome who possesses an unusual skill with numbers that could make a lot of money and that has already gotten a lot of people killed―and has even more of the deadliest people alive willing to do anything it takes to exploit him.
As Dane joins in the hunt to find the boy, it swiftly becomes a race against the clock that has Dane entangled in a web of secrets involving everyone from the Filipino Mafia to distrusting federal agents to some of hardest southern outlaws he’s ever known.
My Thoughts: 5/5 stars
This series hasn’t disappointed me yet! While you could probably jump into the series with this book (the third one in the series), I highly recommend starting with BULL MOUNTAIN. Mainly because of how incredible this who series it. With any crime series you almost anticipate or expect some of the books to slow down or not quite live up to the first book or they become fillers to develop the story and set events up for the next book. That hasn’t been the case with the Bull Mountain series.
Panowich brings us another gritty, atmospheric, violent, and brutal read. Arnie Blackwell is on his way to Florida and he’s got a suitcase full of cash with him. When he’s murdered and his brother goes missing, so begins the dark spiral of this book. Once all signs and evidence points back to Hard Cash Valley in Georgia, Dane Kirby is called in to consult on the murder case. Dane and is new partner, Roselita, are on the case to solve the murder and find the 11 year old William before it’s too late.
Their investigation leads them to The Farm – an awful place where money changes hands, morality is left at the door, and it’s full of gangsters and other questionable people. This Southern noir perfectly captures the despair in Hard Cash Valley and I can’t believe how well-developed the characters are. I shouldn’t be surprised because Panowich created such real and authentic feeling characters in his previous books, but you will find yourself really connecting with Dane and all of his struggles. His grief and torn nature just leap off the page. The descriptions of the characters and the violence are almost mesmerizing and so necessary to keep the plot moving.
I was not expecting that ending and I was, once again, treated to a read where it kept me gripped from the first page to the final one. With red herrings, a fast pace, and compelling plot, this is one you’ll want on your TBR. Fingers crossed we get to revisit Bull Mountain or Hard Cash Valley again soon!