cover image Eden Mine

Eden Mine

S. M. Hulse. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-14647-4

Hulse (Black River) revisits the American West with a taut, poignant tale of a personal vendetta turned act of domestic terror. Lone wolf bomber Samuel Faber disappears after blowing up a courthouse in Elk Fork, Mont., and unintentionally injuring a dozen people in a church across the street. His sister, Jo, a paraplegic artist, refuses to cooperate with the authorities, even after befriending a pastor named Asa Truth, whose daughter was gravely injured in the blast. The two bond in their mutual desire to retain some semblance of faith, Asa in God and Jo, less understandably, in Samuel. Hulse labors to blur the lines between good and evil, drawing out Jo and Samuel’s backstory—their father’s death in a mine collapse, their mother’s violent murder, the state government’s imminent seizure of the property—to highlight the past’s indelible marks on the present. As the sheriff leads a manhunt for Samuel, Hulse shares the fugitive bomber’s point of view, adding to a chorus of voices grappling with questions of loyalty, faith, injustice, and redemption. Despite stock characterizations and plotting, the dramatic conclusion kicks like a mule, a testament to Hulse’s storytelling acumen. This country noir has its moments. (Feb.)