28 July 2015

Today's Read: Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

Bull Mountain by Brian PanowichWhat if your family had spent a hundred years building a solid reputation in the illegal substances business but you wanted out? When Clayton Burroughs came down off Bull Mountain, he not only walked away from his assumed destiny but he crossed the Rubicon, eventually becoming the sheriff of a neighboring town. But before the first cracks appeared, the patriarchs ruled with an iron hand:

1949: "Family," the old man said to no one.

The word hung in a puff of frozen breath before dissipating into the early-morning fog. Riley Burroughs used that word the same way a master carpenter used a hammer. Sometimes he just gave it a gentle tap to nudge one of his kin toward his way of thinking, but sometimes he used it with all the subtlety of a nine-pound sledge.
Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich (Penguin Random House / Putnam, 2015, p. 1, uncorrected proof)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: northern Georgia, mostly contemporary times but with snapshots into the family's past
  • Circumstances: When Sheriff Clayton Burroughs is asked by federal marshals to convince his brother Halford, current head of the family, to give up the goods on a Florida gang in return for amnesty, the brothers' delicate ties threaten to dissolve into violence. There's no question that someone is going to get shot, but will the Burroughs boys end up on the same side of the gun?
  • Characters: Brothers Clayton, in the law-enforcement business, and Halford, in the drug business; Simon Holly, a federal agent; a variety of other Burroughs men, women, and children; members of the Florida gang; spouses and colleagues
  • Genre: dark family saga; Southern fiction; crime/thriller; brothers
  • Themes: loyalty, family, destiny, finding one's own path, protecting loved ones
  • Structure of the novel: The main action takes place in 2015 and involves Clayton and Halford, but the story is told by multiple people in different locations and during different times. So the plot doesn't follow a single path
  • Thoughts & recommendations: This is a gritty, violent book, but not necessarily gratuitously so. There are no distinct lines between good and evil, here. People may not have made the choices you would have, but their motivations are often reasonable. Panowich's writing is rich and accessible, pulling you into this family story. If you like the television show Justified, then you'd probably like Bull Mountain.
  • Miscellaneous: Brian Panowich is a professional musician turned full-time firefighter. He lives in Georgia and this is his debut novel. Although Bull Mountain is a standalone book, Panowich has expressed interest in revisiting the world he created in the north Georgia hill country.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 7/28/15, 7:30 AM  

I've seen this one blogged about a lot, and don't think it's for me. Hope you enjoy it.

(Diane) bookchickdi 7/28/15, 7:31 AM  

I've seen this one at the shop and been curious about it.

Nadene Reynolds 7/28/15, 7:38 AM  

Not sure what to make of this one. I hope you are enjoying it.
Here is mine

Kym Thorpe 7/28/15, 8:06 AM  

I'm on the fence about this one. I would go on for a chapter or two before deciding - I do like the premise and the opener.

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 7/28/15, 8:06 AM  

I just finished this one last week and LOVED it! Great summer read! And - I agree with about the violence...it didn't seem pointless for the sake of violence. They had their reasons (even if we wouldn't agree with them!).

Laura 7/28/15, 9:16 AM  

Sounds interesting. Not something I would normally read, but still something to add to my TBR especially living in Georgia. Thanks for coming by My Teaser

Kathy Martin 7/28/15, 9:26 AM  

Sounds like an interesting story but not something I would usually pick up. My teaser this week comes from Wolf Trouble by Paige Tyler. Happy reading!

Monica's Bookish Life 7/28/15, 9:34 AM  

I'm not sure this book is for me, but I'd read a bit more to make sure.

Kay 7/28/15, 9:38 AM  

Every time I read about this book, I keep thinking of the TV show Justified - set in the hills of Kentucky. And a lot of ambiguous between good and bad characters.

bermudaonion 7/28/15, 9:45 AM  

Oooh, I love dark Southern novels. This sounds good!

Laurel-Rain Snow 7/28/15, 10:19 AM  

I wouldn't have picked it up from the title...but your background details really made me want to read more. Thanks!

And thanks for visiting my blog.

Literary Feline 7/28/15, 11:50 AM  

I am really curious about this book. I love the teaser you shared--the writing style and the tone set. I find the premise quite interesting as well.

Tammy 7/28/15, 12:15 PM  

This sounds like a book I would pick up and read. Thank you for the teaser!

Here is mine: http://afoldinthespine.weebly.com/home/teaser-tuesday

Sandra Nachlinger 7/28/15, 1:14 PM  

Sounds like a gritty, realistic story with a good plot. The violence would bother me, but I can see how it's required by the story line. This book falls into my "maybe" category.
Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog today.

Topazshell 7/28/15, 1:19 PM  

One word "family" can convey so much.

Margot 7/28/15, 1:28 PM  

Great idea for a story. I liked the opening paragraph too. I'll read this one.

Suzie Quint 7/28/15, 3:10 PM  

This could be interesting. I always like things that deal with one's core family.

Donna H 7/28/15, 5:50 PM  

I'm kind of interested because it is set in the area I live in, but I don't know if I would really get in to it. Girl Who Reads

Catherine BookClubLibrarian 7/28/15, 9:49 PM  

I've had my eye on this one. Sounds like an intense family drama.

Sharons Book Nook! 7/29/15, 3:20 AM  

This book is new to me, sounds interesting though.
Sharon @ Sharon's Book Nook!

Daryl 7/29/15, 2:53 PM  

ah but Justified had its roots in Elmore Leonard and while i am sure Mr Panowich is a good writer ...

Sally Whitney 7/29/15, 5:46 PM  

I like books in which there are no distinct lines between good and evil. The most interesting characters are the ones who do the wrong things for the right reasons. Thanks for pointing out this aspect of this book.

Anita LeBeau 7/30/15, 6:18 PM  

I really enjoyed this book. It's gritty but so good.

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