cover image Dust in the Heart

Dust in the Heart

Ralph Dennis. Brash, $17.99 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-7324226-1-2

Webster County, N.C., sheriff Wilton Drake, the hero of this solid, previously unpublished crime novel from Dennis (1931–1988), has faced a lot in his life. A sniper’s bullet left him with a shattered hip and a limp, while his ex-wife left him with a battered heart, a taste for booze, and an attraction to the wrong kind of woman. Despite his injuries, Drake is all lawman. His latest case finds a child murderer loose in his jurisdiction, and he’ll use everything in his power to bring the killer to justice. This is old school police fiction at its best, where the men talk tough: “ ‘An eye for an eye, Sheriff?’ ‘Whenever possible,’ Wilt said.” In lesser hands, this kind of hard-boiled style would fall into cliché or stereotype, but Dennis, with a sharp ear for dialogue, skilled plotting, and the ability to create fully developed characters, keeps the story fresh and the action believable. Any fan of Ross Macdonald or Ed McBain will thoroughly enjoy this outing. (Dec.)