cover image Cold Quiet Country

Cold Quiet Country

Clayton Lindemuth. MP Publishing (, $14.95 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-1-84982-166-7

Lindemuth’s impressive debut, set in the winter of 1971, is a go-for-the-jugular country noir. Josephus Bittersmith, 72, is the longtime patriarchal sheriff of a remote town in Wyoming that bears his grandfather’s name. Burt Haudesert is a lecherous militiaman and rancher who routinely raped his teenage daughter, Gwen. But Burt’s been found dead with a pitchfork through the neck, and Bittersmith, a philanderer and brutish lout, has been called in on his final day in office and on the eve of a blizzard to track down whoever’s responsible. Gwen is missing, and suspicion soon falls on Burt’s hired farmhand, an orphan named Gail G’Wain who had eyes for Gwen and is also AWOL. Holed up in a farmhouse with Gwen’s best friend, Liz Sunday, another victim of rape, the honorable Gail prepares for the assault of vengeful Wyoming militiamen and corrupt local deputies. Lindemuth carefully weaves characters’ backstories into this thrilling narrative, and his visceral prose and unsparing tone are wonderfully reminiscent of such modern rural noir masters as Tom Franklin and Donald Ray Pollock. Agent: Cameron McClure, Donald Maass Literary. (Nov.)