From acclaimed fiction writer, screenwriter and memoirist Chris Offutt (Country Dark) comes Shifty's Boys, a crime thriller with characters as ugly and beautiful as the landscape of the Kentucky hills. The novel is the second Mick Hardin story, following 2021's The Killing Hills.
Mick Hardin, an army criminal investigator, is on medical leave back home in eastern Kentucky after suffering a serious leg injury from an IED. Lying low, he is living with his sister, the local sheriff who's running for reelection. He's also trying to avoid Percocet and whiskey and pondering whether to give in to his wife's desire for divorce. When the two adult male children of a neighboring woman are murdered, he takes up her plea to investigate and discovers a big-time web of corruption and violence against humanity and the land. As the case comes together, Hardin confronts the nature of his home and comes to terms with how he was formed and who he has become.
Offutt writes in the classic detective genre with clarity and ease, providing the structural satisfactions of a mystery unfolding into a taut climax, and possesses the kind of sophisticated language and human insight only a fine writer can deliver. Enriching the story are arresting turns of phrase and intricate details, such as gorgeous descriptions of birds and trees, mushrooms and plants and the way the sun looks as it falls across the forests, meadows and hills. It is a world of startling beauty and cruel violence, its harsh truths unsparing, unemotional and unredeemed. --Walker Minot, teacher, freelance writer and book reviewer