Bull Mountain

Brian Panowich (G.P. Putnam's Sons)

click to enlarge 'Bull Mountain'
'Bull Mountain'

Never lacking in ambition, first-time author Brian Panowich enters the ring with a no-holds-barred, age-old tale of the ties that bind family and the resentments and stubbornness that tear families apart. Bull Mountain is a devastating tale told with the mastery of language we’ve seen from such writers as Cormac McCarthy, William Faulkner and a host of others to boot.

It’s classic Cain vs. Abel fare, and there’s not a dull paragraph to be found in this tight-as-a-fist debut. A multigenerational story of crime and family from moonshine to methamphetamine, this novel hits hard where it hurts and will leave you guessing who will be the last man standing at the end.

Panowich worked as a traveling musician for 12 years and now spends his time putting out fires in east Georgia. He knows how the geography of the land can make men into monsters or saints, and this novel goes deep into the history of the fictional Cain vs. Abel clan.

For nearly a century, the Burroughs boys have been running things on Bull Mountain, but an ambitious ATF agent wants to shut things down, or at least bring them to a slow simmer.

Despite good-hearted efforts by one brother to save his violence-crazed sibling, the sins of the father are eventually revisited upon the sons. What seems to be an inevitable bloodletting becomes a nightmare of epic scope, with Panowich avoiding any of the predictability or clichés that bog down ordinary “Thug Lit.” This novel digs deep into the blood-soaked Georgia soil to reveal a shameful family history. Bull Mountain is a towering achievement.

Grade: A+

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