Bull Mountain

McFalls County Sheriff Clayton Burroughs has a problem. He’s spent his entire adult life distancing himself from his violent and dysfunctional family on Bull Mountain.

Into Clayton’s office walks Federal Agent Simon Holly with an interesting proposition. If Clayton can convince his older brother and last living family member, Halford, to shut down his meth labs and rat out his gun supplier, Holly agrees not to burn down the mountain with a massive FBI, ATF, DEA and IRS operation. Halford, Holly promises, can simply retire on his hard-earned fortune and live out his life in peace.

This presents Clayton with two problems. First, Halford is the kind of crazy that makes Charles Manson look like an Eagle Scout. He thumbs his nose at the law, Clayton especially, because he can. It’s not about the money and never has been. It’s about Halford’s notions of family. To make matters worse, we soon discover that Holly has cards he isn’t showing. So begins Bull Mountain, another in a series of novels by author Brian Panowich.

To understand Panowich’s rich and complex cast, we must first know their family history. The difficulty in developing such a backstory is avoiding chronological confusion. Panowich makes this seem effortless. His chapter headings identify one central character and the year in which the narrative occurs. We come to know each person so well that, before long, we’re moving through three generations of Burroughs with such ease that we no longer notice.

As singer-songwriter, Jimmy Buffett, once said, “Don’t describe the scenery if you’ve never seen it.” Brian Panowich’s intimate knowledge of Appalachian culture comes through in every well-crafted word.

To say that Panowich’s writing is as clear as a Mason jar of white lightning is to borrow an obvious and often-used analogy. It is also an understatement. Put simply, he writes as plainly as people in North Georgia speak.

Panowich’s novels are available online, or, better yet, at a bookstore near you.