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A Swollen Red Sun Paperback – June 17, 2014
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“The words practically vibrate off the page in Matthew McBride’s amped-up and intricately plotted novel about meth freaks and dirty cops, A Swollen Red Sun. Filled with scenes of both tremendous brutality and heartrending compassion, it is the best fictional depiction of the current drug epidemic raging across the Midwest that I have ever read.” —Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff and The Devil All the Time
“A Swollen Red Sun, simply put, is an epic piece of modern crime fiction. But within that, McBride never loses his sense of powerful intimacy with the characters, their lives, their families, and their demons.” —Todd Robinson, author of The Hard Bounce and editor of Thuglit
“Memorable, unique, and at times, even haunting. Every character rings true from the feckless to the noble to the downright frightening. . . . [With] dark country humor, A Swollen Red Sun is a must read.” —Johnny Shaw, Anthony Award–winning author of Big Maria and Plaster City
“Matthew McBride is one of those rare writers who can have you reeling in shock one minute, and laughing out loud the next.” —John Rector, author of Already Gone
“Make no mistake, McBride is the king of Chainsaw Noir, and there’s no one else who can step to the throne.” —Chuck Wendig, author of Blackbirds
“Matthew McBride writes like a train doing 80 miles an hour towards a curve rated for 30. The doors are rattling, the couplings are screaming, and you’re riding the blind, hoping like hell that the destination lives up to the ride. Which it does, and more. Matthew McBride is exactly my kind of writer, and Swollen Red Sun is precisely my kind of book.” —Benjamin Whitmer, author of Cry Father
“Matthew McBride is an American original. His dialogue crackles like a brush fire and he has a rare gift for pitch-perfect details that breathe life into each and every character. There’s no other writer I know whose prose could sear paint off a wall.” —Hilary Davidson, Anthony Award–winning author of Blood Always Tells
“Read [Frank Sinatra in a Blender] in a day. Loved it!” —Charlie Sheen
“McBride’s novel combines the backwoods creepiness of Nic Pizzolatto’s HBO series True Detective, the understated country humor of Johnny Shaw’s Big Maria, and the sensitivity to character and nuance of Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone.” —Booklist
“Gasconade local McBride (whose previous book was the cult favorite Frank Sinatra in a Blender) gives Breaking Bad fans more down and dirty meth action.” —Publishers Weekly
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Top customer reviews
The characters are fairly believable and gritty in this meth-ravaged rural Missouri nightmare where desperation and morality fight for supremacy. Instead of right and wrong being black and white here, things swirl together into grimy shades of gray. Skaggs is in it up to his neck. He owes money to everyone, including crooked cops, and has to answer to the deranged Reverend Pogue who runs the whole operation from his isolated fringe religious cult compound on Goat Hill with his two wives and mentally challenged son. Jerry Dean is coming for his money if he has to stay up for a week to do it.
The most sympathetic character is probably Olen Brandt, an 81 year old farmer doing things the old way. He has very little left besides his dog and his land, yet he continues to soldier on despite being surrounded by the steady encroachment of decay and easy money.
This is a fast-paced read about desperate people, but the writing feels a bit cartoonish and pushed at times. The characters could be fleshed out more and there could be more realistic depictions of the consequences involved with their poor decision making. Also I was disappointed in the ending – it felt as though there was another one written but McBride backed off and gave us this one instead. If you slam your foot on the gas of the narrative and drive that car like a bat out of Hell deep through the wilds of meth country, readers want to see where it goes. An author should trust his instincts and take it all the way.
Matthew McBride shows promise with “A Swollen Red Sun” and I look forward to reading his other work (”Frank Sinatra in a Blender”). I want to rate this 3 ½ stars with a positive look to the future, so I’ll round it up to 4.
This book shows what men do to get by in tough times, what they do when they are born into a life of poverty and what they do when they cannot escape the pulls of drugs.
The characters range from bad men with bad intentions who do bad things, to good guys with good intentions that do both good and bad things. It is McBride’s storytelling that allows you to understand his characters’ actions and still see the goodness within them when they do bad things. His ability to flesh out the characters is one of the strongest aspects of this book.
The story has a few surprises, many highlights and is an overall satisfying read. McBride writes great short stories and great novels. Anyone who is not reading him needs to rectify that immediately.
When a lawman steals $52,000 it sets off a chain of events that touch many more lives than he ever could have anticipated; and not in a good way. This is a very candid look at a very real problem in many rural areas and that is what makes it so scary; because it's true... it may be fictional in its telling of truth, but none-the-less it is real and the author does a very good job keeping it real.