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The Hush: A Novel Hardcover – February 27, 2018
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Praise for The Hush
"A testament to friendship, an exploration of family, a meditation on slavery and its legacy, a lament on the prison of the past ― and a grisly and gritty ghost story ― The Hush displays Hart at his best. With richly imagined characters and depth of ingenuity, Hart forges a thoughtful and disturbing novel, one that delivers shocks in his story and joy in his storytelling. The author, who splits his time between North Carolina and Virginia, builds on his trademark take on the literary Southern gothic; the result is his most powerful work yet, one that plants a flag at the intersection where William Faulkner and Stephen King meet in unexpected harmony." ―Richmond Times-Dispatch
"[Hart] ranks right along with John Grisham and other outstanding writers of legal thrillers. And “The Hush” is, in part, a gripping legal thriller ― but it is also a lot more.... Once again, Hart has given us not only a thriller of the highest order, but also a story about loyalty, friendship, family and love." ―Greensboro News & Record
"Chandler himself would be a big fan of John Hart for reasons clearly on display in The Hush... Like Chandler, Hart is a brilliant novelist as well as mystery writer, a lyrical wordsmith as comfortable turning a phrase as tension-riddled screws." ―Providence Journal
“Hart’s career continues on its ever upward trajectory: five books, five NYT bestsellers, two Edgars, and steadily growing critical acclaim… [He] makes it six for six here, and behind this uncanny string of success is a rare ability to combine the most propulsive of popular fiction with beguilingly rich characters. The track record is enough on its own, but this time the idea of a sequel to a popular previous novel will have Hart’s fans squirming in anticipation." ―Booklist (starred review)
"Hart proves his reputation as an Edgar Award–winning wordsmith is well-deserved." ―Library Journal
"Ambitious and inventive, The Hush brings to mind the work of a wide range of authors, including William Faulkner, John Grisham, and Michael Koryta. Besides his winning cast of human characters, Hart manages to bring Raven County and its environs to vivid life, imbuing it with a dark personality all its own. A worthy sequel to the outstanding The Last Child..." ―Mystery Scene
"Hart continues to deepen his palette in this ambitious sequel, which is distinctive enough in story and tone to be read as a stand-alone. Recommended for fans of Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island and Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter." ―Library Journal
"[Hart's writing is masterful and his books among the best." ―Reviewing the Evidence
"Boy, what a story! Haven’t read Hart’s previous work but am intrigued now about The Last Child. I raced through this. Found it thrilling, interesting, pulse increasing....pushed all the other books vying for my attention to one side and focused on this." ―Jayne Guitart, Westwinds Bookstore (Duxbury, MA)
"I tried. I really, really tried to read John Hart’s latest masterpiece slowly as to savor every word, but to no avail. The Hush is too captivating, too thrilling and simply an amazing feat of storytelling. I started reading at 4 and finished by 9. I marvel at John's talents." ―Sally Brewster, Park Road Books (Charlotte, NC)
"John Hart is UNSTOPPABLE! He is a master storyteller and his latest is no exception! He keeps me up at night! The Hush continues the saga of Johnny Merrimon and his friend Jack from The Last Child. Ten years have passed since the drama of that story and more evil awaits Johnny and Jack. A mesmerizing tale that you have to read!! Loved it!!!!" ―Stephanie Crowe, Page and Palette Books (Fairhope, AL)
Praise for John Hart
“John Hart can flat-out write.” ―David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Hart is still far too young for The Last Child to be called a crowning achievement, but the novel’s ambition, emotional breadth, and maturity make it an early masterpiece in a career that continues to promise great things.” ―The Washington Post
“Edgar Award winning John Hart cements his status as one of America’s premier novelists.” ―The Providence Journal
"With his trademark strength and deep insight, John Hart rolls out another masterpiece." ― Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books
'I love the richness of his stories and the paths this characters chose to in fact achieve some kind of redemption for the powerless." ― Sheryl Cotleur, Cooperfield's Books
"There’s a magic in his work...Hart creates characters your heart bleeds for...thoroughly worth a slow, attentive read." - Raleigh News & Observer
"Hart proves once again that great thriller writers can also be great novelists, and he’s one of the very best in both categories. The lyrical beauty of Hart’s writing contrasts beautifully with the sordid despair that roils his characters." ―Providence Journal on Redemption Road
About the Author
JOHN HART is the author of several New York Times bestsellers, The King of Lies, Down River, The Last Child, Iron House, and Redemption Road. The only author in history to win the Edgar Award for Best Novel consecutively, John has also won the Barry Award, the Southern Independent Bookseller’s Award for Fiction, the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, and the North Carolina Award for Literature. His novels have been translated into thirty languages and can be found in more than seventy countries.
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Curiously, there is no single protagonist, but rather an ensemble of players each of whom makes a unique contribution to the mystery’s solution and final plot resolution. Initially it seems the protagonist is Johnny, a nature boy who lives in a swamp off the grid for the most part. There is a steady stream of narrative about Johnny’s previous adventure where, it seems, he ended up taking on some bad guys when he was about 10 years old and prevailing by not only doing away with the criminals, but saving a little girl. For that, he gained a bit of fame.
I saw no benefit from the rather persistent but obscure references to this previous escapade especially since at the novel’s start, it seemed like the superior narrative to the one in the present. I have no idea if the references are to a previous novel or just pulled out of the air, but in either case, I, even now, find myself more intrigued by the hints of that story over the one I just finished.
Rather curiously, the society portrayed is set in today but describes a racially segregated community. Whites live conventional lives but blacks are universally shown to be living on the margins existing on subsidized this or that while sometimes engaging in lite criminal activities. The whites seem indifferent to the blacks but the blacks universally burn with outright hatred of whites. It’s a rather grim portrait drawn throughout the book.
Overall I was intrigued by the mystery element as well as satisfied by the resolution. I could have done without the segregation and race hate, though.
But even given that resume, Hart throws crime readers a couple of major-league curveballs with THE HUSH, his new tale. After a series of remarkable standalones, for the first time ever Hart has brought a protagonist back. THE HUSH sees the return of Johnny Merrimon and Jack Cross, childhood best pals and adolescent heroes from THE LAST CHILD, a Southern Gothic mystery masterpiece that swept the Edgar, CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and Barry awards, among other accolades. In that tale, Johnny and Jack teamed up as Johnny searched for his twin sister, who'd vanished a year before.
A decade later, Johnny and Jack are young men. Johnny has retreated to a self-sustaining lifestyle in a remote cabin on the swampy, sprawling property of Hush Arbor that was in his family more than a century ago, and passed to him after the events in THE LAST CHILD. Johnny's land-rich, but cash poor, and many vultures are circling, eyeing up the rugged landscapes he calls home. Johnny is living life the way he wants, on his own terms, and Rowan County locals view him as as wild and untamed as the land he inhabits. Books have been written about his exploits; he even has groupies.
Jack, who was the wilder of the pair as kids, has turned himself around from teen tearaway to young lawyer starting his career at a well-regarded local firm. He's Johnny's only link to normal life, but even he finds himself questioning his old friend's insularity, and his strange attachment to Hush Arbor, a place full of dark and mysterious history, that seems to affect visitors in bizarre ways.
As Johnny's ownership of the land comes under threat from multiple angles, Jack wants to help his old friend, but also worries about the dangers that lurk among the swamps and trails of the Hush.
And it's those dangers that provide a further curve ball. Hart has always had a strong sense of the rural environment in his thrillers, the places and the people who populate them, but in THE HUSH that sense of place casts a long shadow. Not just a 'character-like shadow', it is pretty much a character in itself, with a swirling, malevolent personality. There's an elemental feel to THE HUSH, an ancientness, or mysticism. It's a thriller with more than a touch of magic realism.
So a few curve balls, and several places where the author could strike out. But in Hart's hands, he connects. Beautifully written, with that vivid, elemental sense of place and populated by an eclectic cast of richly drawn rural characters: blue-collar workers, rich landowners, entitled businessmen who fly in for hunting, a range of local lawyers, outdoors enthusiasts, and strikingly poor people that feel a great connection to land where their ancestors spilt blood or were enslaved (or both).
THE HUSH can at times feel like a bit of an experiment from Hart, but for me, it worked.