cover image Lady Chevy

Lady Chevy

John Woods. Pegasus Crime, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-64313-428-4

Amy Wirkner, the 18-year-old protagonist of Woods’s relentlessly bleak debut—nicknamed Chevy for her wide backside—is desperate to escape Barnesville, Ohio. Her mother openly cheats on her father, her “deformed” baby brother suffers mysterious seizures, and her family is destitute, despite selling their land’s mineral rights to a company whose fracking poisoned their well. Amy dreams of being a veterinarian, but without a college fund, she must hope for a scholarship. After carving a swastika in the school bathroom to try and make herself feel powerful (like her KKK Grand Dragon grandfather), Amy vows to maintain a low profile, but then her friend and crush, Paul McCormick, comes knocking. Paul’s father has black lung disease, and Paul wants to punish the mining industry by bombing a chemical tank—with Amy as his getaway driver. When the plan goes awry, Amy must contemplate how far she’ll go to protect her own future. Using stark imagery and evocative prose, Woods paints an unflinching portrait of small-town brutality and despair. Tension climbs as the cops close in, but the deeply unsympathetic cast leaves readers uncertain for whom to root. Fans of Appalachian noir will be well satisfied. [em]Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber Assoc. (June) [/em]