Drawing on a famous Depression-era murder case—the 1935 “Skeleton Murder” in Greenville, Texas—Greaves extrapolates from the historical record to look inside the principals’ hearts and minds. In May 1934, 13-year-old Lottie Garrett and her father, Dillard, are homeless, standing by a dusty road in Oklahoma, when Clint Palmer, recently released from Leavenworth, picks them up with promises of work and food. So begins a one-year odyssey in which Palmer, apparently after murdering Dillard, rapes Lottie and claims her as his wife before embarking on an interstate crime spree with Lottie in tow. It culminates with the double murder that made the pair famous (trial transcripts are interspersed within the story). Lottie’s narration, a mix of naïvete and hard-won toughness, is heartbreaking in its plainspoken recounting of the facts behind a nightmare, but all the characters, even Palmer—a sociopath to his core—reveal flickerings of inner lives that confound our attempts to pigeonhole this seemingly archetypal Depression tragedy. There are echoes of Robert Altman’s great 1974 film Thieves like Us here, but most of all Lottie evokes the steely but tender heart of Ree Dolly in Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone (2006). --Bill Ott
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Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Mailer, Capote and Berendt, Greaves has crafted a McCarthy-esque non-fiction novelisation that is, at once, both timeless and classic. A truly extraordinary accomplishment, and a wonderful, wonderful book. I was left speechless R.J. Ellory Now and again you discover a thriller that sweeps you off your feet, it is so unexpected. This is one ... We are in the days of the dustbowls and The Grapes of Wrath ... A delicate mix of poignancy and horror, it is impossible to forget Daily Mail A taut and intriguing thriller ... The novel displays Greave's deft grasp of psychology ... Greave's fictional version of her story is a strange and unsettling read The Sunday Times A superb first novel, based on a true story ... Written in a style that is the prose equivalent of a Dorothea Lange photograph, it is, as much as anything, a coming-of-age story ... Extraordinarily moving reading Guardian Hard Twisted reads like the perfect amalgam of Cormac McCarthy and Jim Thompson: violent, hilarious, and as bracing and painful as the blow of a dog quirt across the face. Utterly irresistible. Pinckney Benedict, author of Dogs of God, The Wrecking Yard, Town Smokes, and Miracle Boy and Other Stories Hard Twisted is fictional crime, with an exceptional true story as its spine, written in a superbly innovative way. Chuck Greaves has penned a remarkably fine novel in prose as stylish and engaging as one will find...[A] compelling saga of murder, mystery, and good and evil at its rawest int he hardscrabble rural Southwest of the 1930s. Vincent Bugliosi, NYT-bestselling author of Helter Skelter, And the Sea Will Tell, and Four Days in November Greaves is the sort of formidable storyteller and mean prose-stylist that makes it look easy. With all the grit, suspense, pathos, and thrills you could ever ask for in a crime novel, Hard Twisted will leave you in knots Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here Greaves's deft prose twinkles like Okie campfires (in the night). Storytelling at its most compelling: raw, yet tender and as dangerous as warm moonshine breath on a young girl's neck Sir Alan Parker A riveting and stylistically stripped-down tale about Lucile Garrett ... subtle, seductive writing ... Greaves has in common with Hammett an ability to portray whole lives or landscapes in a few choice words, and his evocation of place is something to behold- the reader is there in the rickety old truck with the pair as they go on their crime spree, kicking up dust as they flee the scene. He's also brilliant at examining the psychology of both the main characters, adeptly drawing out the moral ambiguity of their situation. Impressive stuff Big Issue (Scotland) A much praised, gritty tale Bookseller
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