Ex-mob enforcer Isaiah Coledrige has hung out a shingle as a private eye in New York's Hudson Valley, and in his newest case, a seemingly simple murder investigation leads him to the most terrifying enemy he has ever faced.
Much like Blood Standard, the first Isaiah Coleridge novel, is a love letter to hyperviolent pulp. Barron loves the genre and makes sure its most recognizable elements are present here, starting with an unforgettable protagonist ... But Barron departs from formula by enriching his noir with both horror and poetry. Black Mountain is a crime-horror hybrid that takes the most entertaining elements of both genres and mixes them into something new that pushes the boundaries of contemporary crime fiction ... There is brutish behavior, but the words describing it are beautiful, mercilessly obliterating the imagined line between genre and literary fiction on almost every page ... Blood Standard was Barron adapting to a new genre. Black Mountain is Barron making the genre his own while simultaneously pulling it in opposite directions: this is at once more elegant and bloodier than most contemporary crime fiction, more eloquent and vicious, smarter and more ruthless. This is crime fiction hurled headfirst into Lovecraftian darkness ... Black Mountain is an entertaining, blood-spattered, and unusually self-assured novel with a meticulously constructed plot that masterfully braids several narratives into a single story. Barron has created a violent world full of multilayered characters and packed with enough guns, booze, mobsters, femme fatales, and mysterious killers to satisfy the most demanding crime fiction fans. Then he made the plot feel intimate and bizarre. He brought in ghosts and insecurities as well as something strange hiding in a cave and a hypermasculine hit man with almost superhuman abilities who is also brilliant and has a heart of gold. The sum of those elements is a novel that feels fresh and exciting, with its own momentum and a unique style. I cannot wait to see what he does next.
Coleridge is a large, unbelievably strong, scarred man—a thug, yes, but a thinking-person’s thug—who may recover physically but still has to face his nights. Readers with a tolerance for violence will want to meet him.
Like a lyricist, Laird Barron excels at manipulating the tones and cadence of language. Like a Gothic novelist, the mood he creates is often bleak ... Coleridge is terrorized by a black wolf in dream sequences that are evocative of early Stephen King. But unlike Barron's first novel, most of the violent action occurs offstage.