Life is pure misery for the women and children in HARD TIMES (Bronzeville Books, 184 pp., paper, $12.99), Les Edgerton’s bone-cracking, Depression-era yarn set in the backwoods of East Texas. Even someone like Amelia — smart enough to win school prizes and cunning enough to carry a machete — gets caught up in the brutal cycle of life for women in these parts. (“Just try to stay out of the way,” her mother advises her when her father forces her to marry Arnold Critchin, who assaulted her on their first date.) When Arnold’s moonshine business lands him in jail, Amelia is left to fend for their four children and her husband’s pack of vicious dogs.
The novel veers straight into thriller territory when Lucious Tremaine, a fugitive from Louisiana, stumbles into this treacherous backwater and Amelia becomes his only hope of eluding the savage locals.
Originally posted by The New York Times. Written by Marilyn Stasio.