Kentucky Game Warden Luke Ryder is an alcoholic, and his boss intends to fire him. On the first day of muzzle-loader hunting season someone shoots a Latino man dead on a farm's food plot. Why did the murdered man, a Louisville gangster, come to the remote holler? Who slew him? County Sheriff Jim Pike, Ryder's only friend, asks him to help find the answers. Ryder believes solving this crime may save his job. And Pike offers to hire him as a deputy, if he can quit drinking.
Murder, gangs, and black-market marijuana run rampant in this testosterone-filled thriller. Whether a given reader connects with it will depend on their tolerance for a few elements. Many of the men surrounding Ryder enable his drinking and, surprisingly, his eventual attempts at recovery don’t get much focus. He jumps into a romantic relationship with a woman within a couple of hours of meeting her. Racism is treated as a fact of life in the Holler in 2029; while Ryder, who is white, is shown to be actively opposed to discrimination and prejudice, he describes his sister Renee as “not a racist” even though she has held off on admitting Black children to the daycare she runs because existing white clients “don’t like that idea.”
But Bluck’s mystery keeps readers quickly flipping the pages with short, fast-moving chapters and weaves comprehensive explanations into the dialogue for readers who aren’t already familiar with hunting and black powder weapons. Ryder’s struggles raise the book’s stakes: he’s trying not only to quit drinking, to avoid losing his job and pushing away the people who care about him, but also to overcome a tragic past fueling his inner demons (“The dead man seemed...like a discarded puppet.... Seeing him as a kid’s doll is my defense mechanism kicking in”). And the mystery itself is twisty, with multiple potential suspects and motives. Southern murder mystery fans will feel right at home in the Holler.
Takeaway: For Southern murder mystery fans, this whodunit and its heart-of-gold protagonist will hit a bullseye.
Great for fans of: James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux Series, Brian Panowich’s Like Lions.
Design and typography: A+
Marketing copy: A+
"Looking for a change of scenery? Consider a trip to Kentucky to solve the 'Death in the Holler' along with Game Warden Luke Ryder and Sheriff Jim Pike . . . . readers will be pulling for Luke Ryder as he works to reveal the killer . . . "
“So Good You’ll Want to Holler … Bluck deftly juggles a complex plot….His descriptions of the setting make me feel I was right there in the Holler.” –Michael A. Black, author of thirty-six books and a retired, decorated police officer who worked in the south suburbs of Chicago.
Read a recent "interview" with Luke Ryder, the protagonist of the mystery novel, Death in the Holler. Ryder is a Kentucky game warden who has law enforcement powers. He works with Sheriff Jim Pike to help solve the mystery of why a man was shot to death on a farm's food plot and who did it.
Author John G. Bluck describes his two mystery novels, his background, and why he became a writer. The two novels are "Death in the Holler," and "The Knight Prowler, a Novella." This interview will be active beginning November 30, 2020.
Author John G. Bluck was interviewed July 13 on Chat and Spin Radio. It's an internet station based in northeast England. Click on the link to hear the interview. Then click on the shorter "bars" near the top of the page to locate the conversation.
A novel by Livermore author John G. Bluck, "Death in the Holler," was reviewed this month in Publishers Weekly Magazine, a trade publication for booksellers and literary agents.
The mystery novel, "Death in the Holler: Bookshop Version," is now available to many brick-and-mortar bookstores worldwide through IngramSpark. This new release of the book was created especially for walk-in bookstores, big and small.
Your local bookshop can order paperback copies at a generous discount. The books are also "returnable," which means that if all the books don't sell, the store can return them, reducing risk to small business people.
This new version includes questions for book discussion groups (book clubs) and a cover with a slightly different color scheme than the original edition.
So, if you'd like to see this mystery in your local store, let its owner know about it. Details storekeepers want to have include the new ISBN number: 978-1-7371360-0-2, and size, 8.5 X 5.5 inches.
The original "Death in the Holler" is still available at many on-line book vendors in paperback and e-book form including Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088P8YLRV.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK:
Kentucky Game Warden Luke Ryder is an alcoholic, and his boss intends to fire him. On the first day of muzzle-loader hunting season, someone shoots a Latino man dead on a farm’s food plot.
Why did the murdered man, a Louisville gangster, come to the remote holler? Who slew him? County Sheriff Jim Pike, Ryder’s only friend, asks him to help find the answers.
Ryder believes solving this crime may save his job. And Pike offers to hire him as a deputy, if he can quit drinking.
“For Southern murder mystery fans….(this novel) will hit a bullseye….Murder, gangs, and black-market marijuana run rampant in this testosterone filled thriller….And the mystery itself is twisty, with multiple potential suspects and motives….
Great for fans of: James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux Series, Brian Panowich’s Like Lions.” –BookLife Reviews, in the Jan. 11, 2021 issue of Publishers Weekly.