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Shifty's Boys by Chris Offutt

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This is Offutt’s fourth novel to go along with two story collections and three memoirs. Offutt grew up in Haldeman, Kentucky, living in a mansion built by an early industrialist that his father, an insurance agent and author of pornography, chose for its isolation and beautiful Eastern Kentucky environs. After high school, Offutt hitch-hiked around the country taking working-class jobs and intermittently enrolling in Morehead State University near his childhood home. He graduated from the prestigious University of Iowa creative writing graduate program in 1990 and has been teaching at the University of Mississippi for several years. He puts words together masterfully, and his novels and stories are close enough to stereotypical that they engender great discussion in college classrooms in Appalachia. Shifty’s Boys is the second Mick Hardin novel after The Killing Hills published last year. “Another excellent Mick Hardin thriller set in rural eastern Kentucky… Come for the thriller, by all means; it delivers nicely. But stay for, and linger in, the marvelous incidentals and atmospherics: arguments about mall names; lore about snakes and birds and mushrooms; descriptions of a local shade-tree tinkerer’s Slinky-like version of a perpetual motion machine. Terrific characters; taut suspense. Another winner from Offutt.” —Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review). “This is country noir at its most powerful, combining cracking action with crystalline portraits of rough-hewn but savvy characters tragically forced to become "retribution killers" to stop yet another cycle of violence.” —Bill Ott, Booklist (Starred Review). “Shifty’s Boys is a tale of vengeance that asks difficult questions about the nature and value of honor, every line delivered with the relentless efficiency of a wolf stripping meat from a bone. In Mick Hardin, Chris Offutt has created a complex, brooding hero, a man whose moral code was hewn from Kentucky hill-country rock. As his world turns darker and dirtier by the minute, once the brutal work is done, we are left with only a few words. More Mick, please.”—Christopher J. Yates.

New York: Grove Press, 2022. 262 pages. Hardback in dust jacket.