Jeff Giles
July 13, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Devil All the Time

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Donald Ray Pollock
publisher
Doubleday
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B+

Knockemstiff, Ohio, is an actual town and, judging from Pollock’s fiction and Google, also a desolate hellhole. After setting a celebrated book of short stories there, Pollock returns to the same geographic and metaphorical stomping ground with this unrepentantly dark debut novel about sexual violence, emotional violence, and plain old violence violence. Two of the subplots concern horrific preachers, but the most unsettling story of all involves married serial killers looking for hapless guys to degrade and murder. Pollock is an impassioned writer, but in The Devil All the Time he doesn’t add much to what we already know about the obscenities that hide out in the human heart. B+

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