- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; First Edition edition (July 7, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780399173967
- ISBN-13: 978-0399173967
- ASIN: 039917396X
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 461 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #609,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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BULL MOUNTAIN Hardcover – July 7, 2015
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An Amazon Best Book of July 2015: Brian Panowich’s debut novel, Bull Mountain, is a dark and deeply seductive addition to the best of Southern fiction. Through multiple narrators, readers are exposed to successive generations of the Burroughs clan and the mountain in the Georgia backwoods that they consider theirs. An outlaw attitude with brutal rules about right and wrong, where wrong can make you dead, is passed on from father to son until the present generation that somehow includes one son who joins the law. The family’s land has provided an illegal income dating from the time of running moonshine to the meth labs of 2015, and while violent and harsh there is a simplicity to their way of being in the world that is hard to look away from. Bull Mountain is an intense and expertly told multigenerational story of blood ties, and bonds stronger than kinship, how the sins of fathers are borne by their sons, and what happens when someone down the line wants redemption--or revenge. --Seira Wilson2
Praise for Bull Mountain
“[Brian Panowich] pulls off [a] daunting undertaking with astounding success . . . The storytelling is mesmerizing, with virtually every chapter set in a different timeline and focused on a single character, but the sense of immediacy carries over into each era. And while the violence is shocking in its coldhearted brutality, it’s as aesthetically choreographed as any ballet.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“Panowich has crafted a satisfying and smartly constructed book whose time-shifting sequences build suspense even as they parcel out telling revelations. Once events are in full play, there’s no turning back.”—The Wall Street Journal
“[Panowich storms] onto the scene with an epic southern tale that establishes him as a new voice for southern writers. . . . An unabashed literary page-turner, Bull Mountain, takes readers along for a ride full of well timed twists and turns, and the shocking family secret that causes the inevitable climax. . . . one of the best multi-generational family sagas in years.”—Huffington Post
“You’d be hard pressed to believe Bull Mountain is the work of a debut author. What Panowich puts together is more than a history of family, but a chronology of the violence perpetrated for nearly a century in maintaining an empire built on bootleg hooch and drugs – not in the name of power, women, or money, but of home. . . .Panowich’s Southern grit is stubborn and gets into every crevice . . . he tears apart the hardened, Southern man so popular in rural noir. Even more, he does so while maintaining that those characters have a moral, human center. “—The Los Angeles Review of Books
“A brilliant debut novel . . . extraordinary.”—Atlanta Magazine
“Dazzling . . . Panowich tells his story in lengthy, nicely worked chapters reminiscent of John Steinbeck, who did his own brother-versus-brother story in East of Eden. Both write in a flowing, textured, understated style that is such a pleasure to read we don’t realize we’re being set up for a series of uppercuts. They come in revelations accompanied by gunfire. Read and recommend to anyone who follows country noir or savors delicious prose.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Panowich plants his Bull Mountain squarely on those same shelves among the classic works of Daniel Woodrell, Larry Brown and James Lee Burke. It's that good. . . . A worthy addition to the growing canon of dope and deadbeat Southern "country noir."—Shelf Awareness
“Prose as punchy as rapid-aged whiskey.”—Esquire
“Part Dashiell Hammett, part Hamlet...The story of a familial criminal empire embedded in the mountains of North Georgia, [Bull Mountain] is a book that never lets a complicated plot and structure get in the way of what, I believe, is Panowich’s greatest gift – the ability to build layered, authentic characters and the world in which they live. . . . Graceful prose, compelling characters, and a true sense of place [make this] gripping reading.”—Augusta Chronicle
“The author delivers characters with depth, a lushly described setting, and an intergenerational battle between good and evil. After many twists and turns, the story ends with a welcome surprise. . . . His book will appeal to readers of Wiley Cash, Ron Rash, and Daniel Woodrell for the way in which it brings the landscape and culture of rural Appalachia to life.”—Library Journal
“Hillbilly noir goes literary in [Bull Mountain] . . . Panowich deftly delves into "something deeper than bone" between fathers and sons, between the land and its people.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Brian Panowich stamps words on the page as if they’ve been blasted from the barrel of a shotgun, and as with a shotgun blast, no one is safe from the scattered fragments of history that impale the people of Bull Mountain. From a conflict born of violence and loyalty, Panowich brings us a cast of remarkable characters who are linked by blood but severed by duty. This is a wonderfully rich and evocative debut novel that is steeped in both the history of Appalachia and well aware of the current challenges it faces.”—Wiley Cash, New York Times-bestselling author of This Dark Road to Mercy
“Brian Panowich had me at the first word of his spectacular debut novel, 'Family,' and he held me until the very last page. Bull Mountain is a sprawling, gritty, violent, tribal inter-generational crime epic with a deeply rooted sense of place and an gut-punch ending I didn’t see coming. Expect to see Bull Mountain on the short-list of many 'Best First Novel' awards.”—C. J. Box, New York Times-bestselling author of Endangered
“Holy cow, what a book! It moves like a bullet. Mr. Panowich knows his mountains, his whiskey, his dope and his meth. And boy, does he know his characters, who are drawn so vividly I can't forget them. I can't recommend this novel enough—it will thrill fans of Daniel Woodrell and Larry Brown as well as fans of Dennis Lehane and William Gay. First rate, first rate!”—Tom Franklin, New York Times-bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
“The gripping, witty Bull Mountain is not only a fine debut, but a fine mystery novel, period. Panowich may even have carved out his own subgenre of hillbilly noir. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.”—John Connolly, New York Times-bestselling author of The Wolf in Winter
“Bull Mountain is a stone gas and a stone winner! It’s brother-versus-brother in the dope-damned South. This first novel has it all: moonshine, maryjane and mayhem! Read this book now – and succumb to a startling new talent.” –James Ellroy, author of Perfidia
“Bull Mountain is a stunningly polished debut novel. Panowich’s tale of family, of land, of crimes large and small, of right and wrong, is so vivid that the reader can almost see the blood in the soil and smell the violence on the wind.”—Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times-bestselling author of Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot
"The resurgence of American heartland noir gets a strong new prose soldier with Brian Panowich's debut novel Bull Mountain, a tense, multi-generational tale of life on the hard side, a cops vs. bad guys story with subtly interwoven family sagas, romance and redemption. Panowich is a rising author to watch." —James Grady, author of Six Days of the Condor
"With echoes of Faulkner's Sanctuary and McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, Brian Panowich's debut novel is Cain and Abel for a sticky South. Strong as bootleg whiskey, smooth as the action of a well-oiled pistol, Bull Mountain is a beautiful, harrowing debut—and so much fun, it ought to be against the law."—Aaron Gwyn, author of Wynne's War
“Dug into the landscape like a grave, Bull Mountain is a novel that resonates with a stirring combination of grace and brutality, of beauty and loss. In the Burroughs family, Brian Panowich creates a clan with all the fire and depth of Faulkner’s Henry Sutpen storming through a Steve Earle song.”—Steve Weddle, author of Country Hardball
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The Burroughs clan (think of the infamous Bondurant brothers) has been doing pretty much as they please up on Bull Mountain for generations. Running moonshine gave way to growing weed which gave way to cooking meth. The money continues to roll in, people occasionally disappear…nobody is asking any questions.
Rather than taking his place in the “family business”, Clayton Burroughs opted to put on a Sheriff’s uniform. He doesn’t interfere with mountain business (and his brother who calls the shots) as long as it doesn’t spill over onto his turf. But an ATF Agent with an agenda arrives on the scene and upsets the status quo. Things are about to turn ugly.
While the writing is quite impressive, with a carefully plotted storyline and pitch-perfect pacing, what really stands out to me is the characterization. The author describes these people so vividly that I felt like I was sitting in the same room with them. There are a fair amount of characters populating this story and never once did I have trouble keeping them straight – they are all distinctive and fully dimensional. Not only are they distinctive, but they’re also all quite interesting. There are no lulls in the story; it’s fast, tight and tense. The dialog is well done – unscripted with a natural sound and feel to it.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a novel in one sitting, but I just had to know how this story played out. It wasn’t predictable, there are a few pretty big surprises and I was caught off guard a few times. I loved it and I highly recommend it.
Some swearing/strong language; some (non-explicit) sexual content; descriptive violence