Every other year, the South Carolina Arts Commission holds a contest to discover the best unpublished novel that has come out of their state in the last two years. What makes for a huge and impressive number of contestants is that the prize consists of a guarantee of publication by Spartanburg’s Hub City Press, one of the country’s most outstanding publishing houses located outside New York City. The Blue Line Down tells the story of Jude Washer, a working class West Virginian who comes of age during the turbulent 1920s a time of great labor unrest. He and his buddy, Harvey, naively join the Baldwin-Felts Agency, a violent private police force hired by the coal industry to bust the union. When they realize what they have gotten into, they let the blue line down and take off, landing in the South Carolina Blue Ridge amidst a gang of bootleggers. "The Blue Line Down never lets up. Maris Lawyer has spun a tale of violent grace and surprising warmth that moves at the pace of a thunderbolt, carrying the reader right into the troubled heart of the Appalachian coal wars and Carolina bootlegging days." —Taylor Brown. “The Blue Line Down is an exhilarating tale of family lost and family found. Jude Washer’s fight to heal his past as he makes his way through the turbulent world of 1920s coal mining and bootlegging is unforgettable." —Jessica Handler. “This is rugged writing with a moral compass and a tarnished hero slowly trying to come clean. Stripped-down language and propulsive storytelling keep these pages turning.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review. This is Maris Lawyer’s first book. She is a native of the South Carolina Blue Ridge who graduated from nearby Anderson University and now lives in Easley, South Carolina.
Spartanburg, South Carolina: Hub City Press, 2021. 216 pages. Trade paperback.