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Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories Paperback – August 30, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“Bill's ever violent and never dull stories [are] a blend of Midwest Gothic and country pulp . . . [They're] over the top, but in a good way, in the way that Quentin Tarantino's first film, Reservoir Dogs, was over the top. Bill never cheats on the smells and sounds of carnage. He doesn't spare the kids and the dogs. But he mixes in a dash of dark humor ("The Accident" being the best example), an occasional nod to love and sentiment ("The Penance of Scoot McCutchen"), and he's adept at holding back, offering reward with a fine twist at story's end . . . [T]his book delivers.” ―The Seattle Times

“The hard- scrabble realism of these 17 stories will bring to mind the Ozark writer Daniel Woodrell and shades of Cormac McCarthy and Dorothy Allison--offering a view of American lives and mores that may as well be from a different planet . . . Rural idyll this is not--but it is as riveting as anything you may read in the near term.” ―The Daily Beast (Best Debuts of the Fall list)

“Flowing like awful mud and written in pulpy style, these stories paint a grisly portrait of the author's homeland. You might want to have your brass knuckles handy when reading.” ―Publishers Weekly

“This gritty, violent debut collection begins rather like pulp genre fiction then deepens into something much more significant and powerful. Set in a dilapidated, seedy, nightmare version of southern Indiana, complete with meth labs, dog-fighting rings, and all manner of substance abuse, the stories are connected by recurring characters. The collection opens with vignettes focused mainly on carnage. But as readers go deeper, the stories lengthen, with Bill turning his attention to psychology and character development and bringing the community to life in fascinating ways … Bill's characters live in a fractured world where there are no good jobs, not much respect for life, and not much hope. It's a bleak, hard-boiled vision of America.” ―Library Journal

“Good Lord, where in the hell did this guy come from? Blasts off like a frigging rocket ship and hits as hard as an ax handle to the side of the head after you've eaten a live rattlesnake for breakfast. One of the wildest damn rides you're ever going to take inside a book.” ―Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff

“Frank Bill's characters all seem to be hurtling at ninety miles an hour down dead end streets, and his recounting of their passage is vivid and unforgettable. Like Barry Hannah on amphetamines, but the voice is undeniably Bill's own.” ―William Gay, author of Provinces of Night

“What can I say about this book? This: planning a summer trip north from Mississippi, these stories caused me to reroute to avoid Southern Indiana. Mr. Bill knows his people well, and writes like they live--on the edge of the edge. Just plain unforgettable fiction.” ―Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

“When you're composing your hardbitten pantheon--Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Patricia Highsmith, Big Jim Thompson, Elmore Leonard--save room for Frank Bill, whose Crimes in Southern Indiana reminded me how thrilling and darkly vital crime fiction used to be and is again.” ―Kyle Minor, author of In the Devil's Territory

“These stories form the ideal nexus between literary art and pulp fiction: beautifully crafted, compulsively readable, and as addictive as crystal meth.” ―Pinckney Benedict, author of Dogs of God and The Wrecking Yard

“Take the bark of a .45, the growl of a rusted-out muffler, and the banshee howl of a methhead on a three-day bender, and you approximate the voice of Frank Bill, a startlingly talented writer whose stories rise from the same dark lyrical well as those of Daniel Woodrell and Dorothy Allison.” ―Benjamin Percy, author of The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh

“How can I not love a writer whose work reminds me in a huge way of some of my favorite writers: Lansdale, Woodrell, Willeford, Thompson, and Faulkner? Crimes in Southern Indiana is a brutal, hilarious, honest, unforgettable book, and Frank Bill is the freshest new voice to emerge on the crime fiction scene in recent years.” ―Jason Starr, author of The Pack

“Say you're driving down a country road, midnight, a beer in your lap, and you corner into a two-car head-on collision that's one of the most horrible things you've ever seen, so horrible that you've just gotta stop, and then, say, when you've gotten out and you're poking around the body parts trying to figure out what's what, you turn your head just right and catch the way the moonlight lays glittering over the twisted metal and bloodslick asphalt, and you're struck breathless by the eerie beauty of it all. That's what Frank Bill's writing is like. It's that stark, that brutal, and just that beautiful.” ―Benjamin Whitmer, author of Pike

“Frank Bill does to crime fiction what a rabid pit bull does to his favorite chew toy. You'll need a neck brace after whipping through these wild, wonderful, whacked-out stories.” ―Derek Nikitas, author of Pyres

Crimes in Southern Indiana brings to light a major American writer of fiction, the prose equivalent of a performance by Warren Oates or a song by Merle Haggard or a photograph by Walker Evans. Tempting though it is to compare him to other writers, the fact is that five years hence every good new fiction writer to come into view will be compared to Frank Bill.” ―Scott Phillips, author of The Ice Harvest

“The first time I read a story by Frank Bill it was like watching a redneck opera in another language. No idea what was going on, but I was dying to find out. I wanted more, more, more until I finally learned how to speak 'Frank Bill.' He is a completely original voice in the literary arena, and will take on any challengers with his bare hands. I'm continually in awe of the stories he tells and the insane way he tells them.” ―Anthony Neil Smith, author of Yellow Medicine and Hogdoggin'

About the Author

Frank Bill lives and writes in southern Indiana. Crimes in Southern Indiana is his first book.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: FSG Originals; Original edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374532885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374532888
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #305,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stacy Helton on April 6, 2013
Format: Paperback
It's always exciting to discover a terrific new writer, especially when it's an accident. Last year at The Strand I picked up a copy of Frank Bill's collection of short stories, CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA, because I dug the cover, the title font and the fact that it was a first-time author. Like most books on my too-read shelf it took a while to work its way to the top of the pile, but man, what a rush. This 2011 collection from FSG is a geographically based collection, similar to Oscar Casares' BROWNSVILLE and Tom Franklin's POACHERS. When one thinks of Indiana one may think of the film HOOSIERS, the city of Gary and the vast farms. However, what Bill points out in this staggering, violent collection is Southern Indiana's juxtaposition to rural Kentucky, a sometimes lawless land ran more by clans than politicians. Only the television show JUSTIFIED and the film WINTER'S BONE has seen characters like this. The opening of the seventeen stories, HILL CLAN CROSS takes place in a seedy motel room when a set of brothers realize their sons are skimming off the THC crop. Violence occurs. In ALL THE AWFUL a young girl is sold by her grandfather to sexual slavery while in the poignancy and surprising BEAUTIFUL EVEN IN DEATH a man's murder of his lover is seen by his son. Part of my job often takes me into the more rural, meth-soaked counties in Tennessee and Bill's descriptions of the people, the codes and the places are spot-on, and rarely pretty. Cardboard is placed over the broken windows, dishes are piled in the sink, ashtrays are overflowing. The smell of old food, mold and cigarettes never leave the furniture. Sex is on a bare mattress. While the stories are all independent, many of the same characters surface, answering questions raised in previous stories.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Owen Adams on August 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is without a doubt the best book of short stories I have ever read. It has plenty of rednecks and meth. And violence. Think Breaking Bad, (I don't really know any redneck type shows. Maybe parts of The Walking Dead?), meets Nikita. Seriously, here is a tidbit from the story "Old Testament Wisdom":

But when the girl swung the tin door open none of that would matter. Because she was carrying on the wisdom. And watching from the four-by-four, Billy Hines could forgive himself and her grandfather could rest in peace after his granddaughter pulled the trigger, just as he had that night ten years ago, until the clip was empty.

I loved every single one of these stories so much. I would love to read novels written about each one, because they ended too quickly. Some of them intertwine, like most short story collections do, but every character is unique. I mean, you have redneck drug addicts so you wouldn't think Frank Bill could put a twist on each one but he does. And guess what! He is writing a book that includes some of the characters from at least one of these stories! I am so excited to read it.

As a warning, I will say that these stories are violent. There are lots of sentences like "His knees exploded like eggs when the bullets hit them. and someone's eyes get cut in half horizontally,etc. But they weren't as violent as I thought they would be. Maybe I am just too desensitized to violence (Thanks, the media). Not that I see knife fights or gang rapes on my way to school or anything. My school is kind of close to some bad parts of Worcester, MA (a very ghetto city) but I'm pretty sheltered in my life actually.

I wonder if this is realistic of southern Indiana life.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Richard Thomas on September 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
[This review was originally published at The Nervous Breakdown.]

When you think of places where crime lurks, locations where you should keep the car rolling through stop signs, where you never stop to ask for directions, a few names may pop into your head. Maybe you think of Detroit or East St. Louis, Baltimore or Miami. It's time to add Corydon, Indiana, to that list, as well as the entire southern part of the state.

In Frank Bill's violent, gut-wrenching, and heartfelt collection of short stories, Crimes in Southern Indiana, there is nowhere safe to hide--the criminals are happy to walk right in the front door pointing a shotgun in your face, spitting tobacco on the floor. A granddaughter is sold as a sex slave. A war veteran tries to forget the killings he committed out in the field as well as the abuse he inflicted on his family at home. Dogfights turn into moments of self-preservation and sudden morality. Family turns on itself while the police provide inadequate protection. All of this unfolds with a raw, unflinching portrayal of meth heads, delinquents, and lost souls searching for a way out. The stories are interlinked and overlapping, as it has to be in any small town, the hero in one story meeting his demise in another, the lawmaker in one tale becoming the criminal in the next.

Early on we get a strong sense of what life what must be like in Corydon and the surrounding communities. In "All the Awful" we witness the sale of Audry by her grandfather, ironically named Able, into slavery, her young flesh an easy commodity to move on the black market:

"One of the man's hands gripped Audry's wrists above her head. Forced them to the ground. She bucked her pelvis up. Wanted him off of her.
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