The author of Our Savage returns with a harrowing novel about honesty, resilience and ruin in the Montana backcountry. The story opens with a sudden murder – Calvin Teague, a vagabond from Iowa, stumbles upon Henry Brusett’s wife and finds himself fatally smashed by a shovel. But the act of murder takes a backseat to the larger question of what murder means in a small town, and what murder means when the prime suspect refuses to speak. This is dark and compulsively readable, and Pavelich explores this crime from every angle. From the lead investigator who knows he doesn’t have enough evidence to convict Brusett, to the local diner waitress who knows everyone’s name but still calls them “Mister,” to the public defender who takes on the case in hopes to adding a “not guilty” to her shelf. Henry is a fiercely quiet, mysterious character, one simultaneously endearing and frightening, but neither villain nor hero. Like Ron Carlson’s The Signal or Gin Phillips’ The Well and the Mine, this is about back country laws and realizing that sometimes, the path to the truth and justice is entirely misleading.