cover image Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories

Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories

Frank Bill. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $15 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-53288-8

Bill's resolutely unsentimental debut collection lays bare working-class strife, exposing atrocities that are at once violently harrowing and desperately human. Pitchfork and Darnel Crase, the two brothers in "Hill Clan Cross," exact cruel revenge on their young kinfolk who've been busy skimming their drugs to sell on the side. In "These Old Bones," the boys' mother murders their father once she discovers he'd pimped out their granddaughter, Audry. Elsewhere, in "Officer Down (Tweakers)," Moon, a police officer whose wife leaves him, kills his estranged best friend who'd become involved in the meth business; in a companion story, menace waits for Ina, his cheating wife. The title story features more downtrodden, reckless men who bet on dogfights with embittered Afghanistan war veterans, then lose and commit even more desperate acts. Readers who enjoy coal-black rural noir are in for a sadistic treat: flowing like awful mud and written in pulpy style, these stories paint a grisly portrait of the author's homeland. You might want to have your brass knuckles handy when reading. (Sept.)