Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last of the Year: "Ridgerunners" by Rusty Barnes

Last of the Year: Ridgerunners by Rusty Barnes, 2016, 9788293326861.

Short and sharp. A style of rural noir similar to Woodrell and Sallis. Hardscrabble life and crime lived in trailers, driven by pick-ups, and shopped at WalMart. I think Anthony Neil Smith recommended this one. I enjoyed the book.

Matt Rider is a part time game warden in Eastern Pennsylvania. He's out on a weekend job trying to catch a couple local no-goodniks from the Pittman family. The Pittman are a low end crime family of dealers and thieves and headed by eldest sibling Soldier. Rider finds two of them near an old house, walks over, gets shot at, runs, falls through a rotted wooden cover into a abandoned well.

Rider is stuck in several inches of water and too injured to climb out. While in the well Matt fires his pistol as a rescue warning and discovers a coffee can sealed in tape. Matt is in too much pain to mess with the can and passes out instead. Rider awakes as the EMTs and a local pal pull him out of the well. Then the trouble starts.

Rider does not consider himself a 'real cop' but he was shot in the line of duty and there is a manhunt across PA and NY states for Soldier and [Other Guy] Pittman. Matt is ticked off and wants to help search but the Pittman's are after him.  Someone cuts his dog's throat, slices his tires and fires shots. Matt's agoraphobic and depressed wife goes to stay with a friend. Matt's 19-year-old daughter left college and went to Florida with a new boyfriend. The new boyfriend is a Pittman.

More trouble happens as Rider and his brother gradually face off with the Pittman's over a slow burn of 75 pages of minor trouble. People are killed. Money is demanded. Barnes does not give flowery descriptions of sunsets or the grit of common country 'folk'.

1. This is the only Barnes book in the library system.
2. I finished this on Dec. 31st and will backdate this post - typed up on January 4 - so I can keep track of how many books I was able to finish last year.
3. Gun love.
4. Gratuitous dog love.
5. Oxycontin poppin' pain relief.
6. I forgot about this: Matt starts carrying a .17 caliber pocket pistol. What the hell is a .17? I very much doubt Barnes meant a .17HMR.
6.A. This is the second novel I recently read where someone has a .17. Is this a copy editing error? Is it a caliber I am completely clueless about?
6.B. The OAL of the HMR is 1.349 inches according to an online source and that's kinda a long for a pocket auto. SAAMI lists the 9mm as a max length of 1.169. The SAAMI max length for for .45ACP is 1.275.
7. I think the important question here is: why am I spending so much time thinking about this?
8. Answer: Because I am.

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