Daniel Fierman
May 30, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Hell At The Breech

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Tom Franklin
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A-

In the 1890s, Mitcham Beat, Ala., was a land of mash moonshine, Spanish moss, dawgs, and men named Mack and Tooch. Based on a true story, Breech tells of a gang of hardscrabble farmers who terrorize blacks, rob townsfolk, and raise a bunch of the titular hell — as well as the wizened sheriff who tries to put an end to the chaos. Franklin won an Edgar award for the title story of his 1999 collection, Poachers, and he lives up to that honor here. Breech boasts all the satisfactions of a contemporary mystery, with a lovely post-Reconstruction touch — it’s as if Faulkner wrote serials, with all the pleasures and profound strangeness that that implies.

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