The Godfather meets Daniel Woodrell in this Southern debut, a multigenerational saga of crime, family, and vengeance.
Clayton Burroughs comes from a long line of outlaws. For generations the Burroughs clan has made their home on Bull Mountain in North Georgia, running shine, pot, and meth over six state lines, virtually untouched by the rule of law.
To distance himself from his family's criminal empire, Clayton takes the job of sheriff in a neighboring community to keep what peace he can. But when a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms shows up at Clayton's office with a plan to shut down the mountain, his hidden agenda will pit brother against brother and test loyalties and could lead Clayton down a path to self-destruction.
©2015 Brian Panowich (P)2015 Recorded Books
Life's good when I am listening to a great book.
Brian Panowich's debut novel, "Bull Mountain", is without doubt a page turner, an exploration into a multi-generational criminal family from the deep, dense mountains of Northern Georgia. The author craftily develops the experiences of children coming to adulthood in a multi generational crime family living in this harsh part of the country. The novel uses the classic good vs. evil themes while also showing the grey zones as well as the complications that arise when one member of the family tries to leave the "bad" family and become "good". There is excitement, intrigue, and mystery but also because the characters are violent and crude people, it follows that there is a lot of violence in this book. The violence is not out-of-context but it is none-the-less present and harsh. The treatment of women is abusive with much violence and disrespect aimed at them throughout the criminal side of the novel which is most likely true in these types of outlaw communities. However, I experienced the characters as (sorry, folks) stereotypical (the good too good and the bad too bad) and I would have enjoyed a little more character development. Overall, I do recommend this novel for its fast pace, ongoing tension, and its historical value in exploring this family of outlaws from past to present.
“..it's awful not to be loved. It's the worst thing in the world...It makes you mean, and violent, and cruel.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
From the first sentence of Panowich's novel, you get the feeling that you're waiting for detonation:
'"Family," the old man said to no one.
The word hung in a puff of frozen breath before dissipating into the early morning fog. Riley Burroughs used that word the same way a master carpenter used a hammer. Sometimes he just gave it a gentle tap....but sometimes he used it with all the subtlety of a nine-pound sledge."
The same can be said of the way Panowich puts words on paper; from prose at times as dazzling as Steinbeck's and as lush as Burke's, to a complex multi-generational saga as intense as McCarthy's, and as granite-edged as Woodrell's -- the story releases itself like an exploding keg of dynamite. His characters feel saturated in violence and tragedy, bound to Bull Mountain by some family curse passed on from when Cain slew Abel. These aren't the same evocative smoky-blue mountains where hillbillies ("Appalachian distillers") once clandestinely set up their stills and boiled corn mash to make moonshine (because corn provides the highest yield of alcohol per bushel of all the grains) for a couple of bucks. Bull Mountain's inhabitants have evolved with the tastes of modern times, from corn whisky, to pot, to meth, and now the family wants in on the illegal gun market. Like their new product, the stakes are higher, the money bigger, and it brings a new partnership into the family business. "What happens on Bull Mountain stays on Bull Mountain," and there are plenty of skeletons buried in the mountain's soil to prove that family motto.
The opening chapter is that nine-pound sledge hammer, delivering a hit that you don't see coming -- and you remain pretty much that surprised through all the twists and turns, up to the very shocking end of a saga that unfolds through generations; a kind of redemption that has been steeped in hatred and blood for generations. Clayton Burroughs is the first of his kin to leave Bull Mountain, the first to seek out a life away from the family business of ill-begotten money, battered families, and drugs and booze, by becoming Sheriff in the town of Waymore Valley. Waymore seems years away from Bull Mountain, lifetimes for Clayton who is content keeping law and order in town and leaving the business and lawlessness of Bull Mountain alone -- until ATF Agent Holly comes to town and warns the sheriff of an impending move on Bull Mountain by law enforcement, and barters for Clayton's help. After years away from his childhood mountain home, Clayton makes the trip back up to Bull Mountain to meet with his estranged brother Hal. Hal and Clayton's great-granddaddy dug his first grave at age 9 yrs.old, and passed on the family traits to Hal, the current patriarch of the Burroughs's dark enterprise. And Hal is a whole new level of mean.
Bull Mountain is a complex story with psychological depth and insight that feels so authentic you could wonder about the author's own history. The pacing is breathless, teeth gritting, and the plot so captivating you have to remember to blink. These are some of the best-written-worst-characters in Southern Grit Lit.; the USA's version of the Mexican Cartels and the Italian Mafia, with a bit more of Appalachian style bat-sh*t-crazy thrown in. It's heavy with descriptive violence, language, drugs, and sex, but those elements are what define this genre of Southern Lit. (tagged *Hillbilly Noir* by Daniel Goodrell) -- occupied by the talents of Cormac McCarthy, Daniel Woodrell, Ron Rash, Tom Franklin, Larry Brown, William Gay, Harry Crews, Barry Hannah, Tim McLaurin, Lewis Nordan, even new-comer David Joy (Where All Light Tends to Go). It might be time to add another genre to the burgeoning Southern Lit roster.
A good, albeit disturbing, read that's a couple of notches deeper than Winter's Bone and closer to No Country For Old Men in intensity. Not quite as polished as McCarthy and a few of the greats in this pantheon, if you can have gritty and polished in the same review, but Panowich's debut grit sure does shine. Can't wait to see what he does next.
One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope
"Arise, black vengeance, from the hollow hell!" W. Shakespeare, Othello, Act 3, Sc. 3
"Resentment is like drinking poison in the hope it will kill your enemy." [Attributed to numerous luminaries]
A thundering novel about the Burroughs clan on Bull Mountain in north Georgia. Younger brother has tried to clean up and be respectable as sheriff in an adjacent county, while his elder brother still runs the family "business," a merciless production/distribution network (in the Southeast U.S.) of moonshine, then marijuana, and now meth.
Mr. Panowich has brilliantly constructed this well-written novel such that unexpected events shake things up to make this a tense and magnetic story of a violent, venomous, vengeful family.
Solid crime family saga set in the Deep South covering generations of wrongdoing, revenge and redemption. Panowich spins s tail of southern crime, family deeds and justice that play out with strong characters and well read by Troxell.
If you're into gangster tales and dark characters seeking their version of justice, this is your book.
One of the best-performed audiobooks I have listened to. Narration for this book is truly excellent. Really brought all the separate characters to life and gave tremendous depth to the audiobook experience.
Gritty, but realistic story. As a native Georgian, I felt the local references were accurate and realistic and the characters' voices and personalities were recognizable as true rural Southerners.
Dept Q, Harry Hole... where are you?
I don't like bullies or long stories of bullies. I especially dislike ignorant, redneck bullies. But the worst bullies in literature and film, in my opinion, are motor cycle gangs. So this novel loses a star for having all of the above. However, bullies also make the best enemies in movies and novels, particularly when there are great heroes to stand up to them.
Bull Mountain is a story of the famiy of moonshiners turned drug dealers that own a mountain in north Georgia. The story begins in 1940 with the family on the cusp of legitimate wealth or conversion of moonshine runs to marjuana crops. In modern day, there are two brothers left. One runs Bull Mountain, the other is the sherrif. While many assume the two are in cahoots with each other, quite the opposite is true.
So when the ATF approaches the sherrif with an opportunity to save his brother from certain destruction, it sets in motion an inevitable conflict of brother agaist brother, good versus evil. But like any great mystery, there are twists. Evil for too long has been ignored and like kudzu among the trees it has infiltrated and spread itself through the lives of far too many good people.
This was a huge surprise for me. There were many times I wanted to turn it off, being irritated by the above mentioned bullies, but in the end it one hell of a great story.
I love to read books set in interesting places or historical settings. I especially love mysteries and thrillers.
I think Southern Noir is the best genre description of this listen. I was never bored as it is well paced for action and character development. I don't love how it ended, but am intrigued where Brian Panowich will go with his next book. Panowich wrote a very impressive story as his debut.
This story contains numerous and varied violent scenes. I admit it was necessary for me to skip over some parts, but I always felt I knew what was happening. I found the history from 1940's to present interesting as it includes Prohibition, moonshine, transition to other crimes and mountain family norms. I liked Sheriff Clayton Burroughs who is at odds with the rest of his crime-ridden family on Bull Mountain. The history of the Burroughs family was scary, but believable. The narrator, did an outstanding job. All the things I look for in a good listen.
Photographer, nature & water geek, music lover, book fiend.
So glad to have gapped upon this book & narrator. Both were superb& I'll be looking for other work by Brian Panowich.
I read this novel and then listened to the audiobook. The characters are realistic and relatable, and I especially loved how the author created strong female characters. The narrator can make or break an audiobook for me but this narrator excelled at giving life to the characters. Bull Mountain was superb and left me wanting for the next book!
List of favorite books: Woodcutter - Reginald Hill, Consent to Kill, First Deadly Sin - Lawrence Sanders, Sniper Elite - Scott McEwen
I was well on my way to thinking this was the best book of the year. "The kind worth killing" still holds that title. This was a great story and the narration was some of the best I've heard.
I think the only hiccup for me was the near ending. I can't give away what happened. I just think - If the ending was a little bit better - It would have been up at the top. It wasn't so much what happened - It's how it happened.
Having said that - It was definitely worth the listen without a doubt.
For what it's worth. J
Report Inappropriate Content