When his addict son gets in deep with his dealer, it takes everything Raymond Mathis has to bail him out of trouble one last time. Frustrated by the slow pace and limitations of the law, Raymond decides to take matters into his own hands.
... outstanding ... Denny’s inherent decency in a world of corruption and mendacity forces the reader into difficult emotional territory. You’d cross the street to get away from Denny Rattler… if you didn’t know him. And if you did know him? You’d feed him a Swanson chicken dinner and do his laundry ... a crime novel, surely – and a damn good one – but it’s also a snapshot of small-town America at a fracture point, when the least of the concerns is the fire that could consume everyone, all at once.
... a brutal, pitiless story, told in the third person, yet full of tenderness and beautiful, lyrical writing, and is my personal reading highlight of the year so far ... a timely, poignant masterpiece. When These Mountains Burn is the kind of book that readers will return to again and again. There is so much to discover in his writing full as it is of beautifully constructed sentences and insightful characterisation.
Stories about drug addiction and the emotional toll it exacts on both the addict and their family members are inherently tragic. But in the hands of a master storyteller, they can be unforgettably powerful as well. Such is the case with David Joy’s When These Mountains Burn ... The novel moves at a brisk pace as it alternates points of view between Raymond and Denny. But what stands out here isn’t the story—harrowing though it is, this tale has been told before—but rather Joy’s unflinching and gritty depiction of his fully realized characters, from their raw loss to their helplessness and rage to their final acceptance. Joy has thoroughly captured their experiences in vivid, memorable prose that burns to be read.