cover image Nothing but the Bones

Nothing but the Bones

Brian Panowich. Minotaur, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-83524-6

The vivid fourth installment (after Hard Cash Valley) of Panowich’s series set in McFalls County, Ga., follows a criminal enforcer on the lam. In 1989, 16-year-old Nelson McKenna is confronted by a pair of bullies. Clayton Burroughs, son of drug kingpin Gareth Burroughs, intervenes on Nelson’s behalf, and one of the attackers ends up dead. Gareth cleans up the mess, but in return, forces Nelson (whom he nicknames “Nails”) to start working for him. Ten years later, Nails is collecting contraband for Gareth at a bar when he interrupts a man sexually assaulting a woman in the bathroom. In the chaos that ensues, Nails’s crew kills the woman’s assailant. Gareth refuses to cover for Nails this time, and sends him to hide out in Florida. On his way out of town, he links up with the woman he defended, who tells him her name is Dallas Georgia, and the two develop an emotional connection. Meanwhile, Alex Price, brother of the man Nails’s crew killed, grows hell-bent on revenge. Panowich keeps readers on their toes all the way through, and anchors his well-executed plot reversals in Nails and Dallas’s tender feelings for each other. It’s another standout Southern noir from Panowich. (Apr.)