Sent to the Mississippi Delta to solve the disappearance of two fellow Prohibition agents, Ted Ingersoll and his partner come upon a botched robbery that left a baby boy the only survivor. When he arrives at his destination of Hobnob Landing, Ingersoll deposits the child with Dixie Clay Holliver, a sad young woman whose son had died two years before.
Ingersoll’s attraction to Dixie Clay is dangerous; he doesn’t realize she’s the secret creator of Black Lightning, the region’s finest moonshine, or that she and her shifty husband were the last to see the missing men. Meanwhile, floodwaters continue to rise, the levees are barely holding, and financially motivated saboteurs are itching to strike. The pacing amplifies to mirror the increasing tension.
The authors superbly depict the bonds of maternal, romantic, and brotherly love, and their slangy dialogue and piquant metaphors enrich their setting. This is a full-bodied shot of bluesy Americana with just the right amounts of grit, heart, and woeful longing, and it goes down smooth and satisfying.
This starred review first appeared in Booklist's August issue. I figured I ought to include it here, too, and spread the word even further about this excellent book. The Tilted World is out this month in the US from William Morrow in hardcover ($25.99, 320pp). It's also out in Canada from HarperCollins ($19.99 in pb) and in the UK from Mantle (£16.99).