Shifty’s Boys by Chris Offutt [7/10]

The second in an emerging noir series set in rural Kentucky, “Shifty’s Boys” features a military policeman on sick leave after an explosion ruined a leg. Mick Hardin is very much an archetypal private eye: damaged, blunt, shy, but decisive and violent, and possessing a strong internal moral code. When a local drug dealer is found murdered and his irascible mother asks Mick to investigate, events gradually escalate from patient detective work to the possibility of vigilante justice. The author pens direct character-focused prose that is not showy but is all the more powerful for it. The plot is tightly controlled, the ancillary characters add spice, and the requisite action scenes are deftly unfurled. Shifty’s Boys is a welcome, swift read executed with panache.

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