Peckerwood: a rough-edged romp with the rednecks

peckerwoodBackwoods American noir is all the rage right now – I’ve read a half dozen this year already – and Peckerwood is among the best of them. It takes all the usual ingredients – small-town sheriff, probably corrupt; meth-labs and whore-houses run a by local hard man; three-time losers looking for a big score; wayward sons and daughters – and blends them together in a romping plot at a pivotal moment.

Told from the perspective of the half-dozen significant players, Peckerwood reveals how their miserable lives intersect and drags them towards an inevitably bloody conclusion when a District Attorney starts paying too much attention…

Along the way, heads get broken big time in a melange of shootin’, shaggin’, jackin’, whorin’, thievin’ and blackmail, but there’s more to this book than a mere criminal rampage. The author has gifted his characters with  fully fleshed-out lives and an extended supporting cast. So along the way it becomes obvious that some of their situations aren’t so clear-cut as they first appear – that some of these folks may be choosing the lesser of the evils before them. Others are satisfyingly bad as can be and heading for a righteous come-uppance. It’s fascinating to watch their overlapping lives spiral towards apotheosis.

The writing and the chopping between characters takes a little while to get used to, especially if you’re not entirely familiar with the slang used. But hey, that only adds credibility to the uncomfortably realistic feel of this sordid, scuzzy rural backwater. There are a few moments of brutally blunt violence, and casually explicit encounters of the narcotic and erotic kind. There are also some scenes of surprising tenderness, reminding us that even low-life scum might genuinely love someone…

A real hot-rod of a read. It’s dark and it’s dirty and it’s nasty. I entirely enjoyed it and will grab more by this author.

8/10

Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason

Peckerwood by Jedidiah Ayres is available as an ebook or paperback

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