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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Hard Cash Valley by Brian Panowich

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

The friendship between Dane and Ned was a strong point for me in Panowich's newest book.

I really really liked Panowich’s book Bull Mountain, which was practically claustrophobic—and fittingly so—in its close exploration of a family and a community in which everyone (as well as everything dark and everything good) was inextricably linked.

In Hard Cash Valley, we spend page time with small-time drug dealers, cockfighting masterminds, Filipino gangsters, and crooked law enforcement. William was a promising character, but we don’t have much time with him.

Especially for the first portion of the book, I was jarred by extra explanations on matters I think a reader could grasp pretty readily. Having Dane feel petty about the attention his young nephew received from Dane’s girlfriend felt off, as did repeated situations in which he was so back and forth, he and his point of view were tough to get a read on: “I wished she would do X, but she didn’t; she brought up what I was thinking about—why was she always bringing up what I was thinking about?”

The interpersonal interactions sometimes felt false to me. There are a couple of odd point of view shifts to Roselita’s perspective. And I was annoyed by Dane’s giving up on himself and then, late in the book—and possibly too late to change his situation—reconsidering. Misty is a saint.

The Dane and Ned friendship was a strong point for me, and I enjoyed learning more about their past and seeing their present-day situation shift and grow.

I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley and St. Martin's Press.

What did you think?

Have you read any of Brian Panowich's books? This one didn't feel quite as character-driven to me as Bull Mountain, and I missed that element. I also want to read Like Lions.

(Also, Panowich commented on my Goodreads review of this book! Eek! And yay?)


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