Reviews

HARD TWISTED


“A taut and intriguing thriller . . . Greaves’ descriptions of the landscape are lyrical . . . The novel displays Greaves’ deft grasp of psychology, using dialogue to offer a plausible explanation of why Lottie stayed with a man as cruel as Palmer.  Their scenes together are impressionistic . . . Greaves’ fictional version of her story is a strange and unsettling read.”

The Sunday Times (UK)

“Okie noir . . . a gritty, gripping read, and one that begs to be put on film.”

Los Angeles Times

“Greaves has only been writing for six years, so it’s possible that he is actually unaware of the difficulty of what he pulls off in the book.  His prose is rich and his diction complex without being overwrought, and he writes using the lingo and dialect of the era, switching it up region to region as his characters move across state lines.  It never rings false or forced.  He sets a scene with so much sensory detail that, in its finest moments, Hard Twisted has the feel of a painting come to life.”

Pasatiempo

“Just now and again you discover a thriller that sweeps you off your feet because it is so unexpected. This is one…The story may be true, but this novel takes that as its inspiration. Former California trial lawyer Greaves creates his characters’ lives and dialogue from his own imagination, and it is a formidable achievement. Never once do you fail to sympathise with Lottie…A delicate mixture of poignancy and horror, it is impossible to forget.”

Daily Mail (UK)

“[A] compelling novel…Readers can’t help but open their hearts to Lottie. …Her story with all its gritty details and twists deserves wide readership.”

Library Journal, starred review

“A superb first novel…Written in a style that is the prose equivalent of a Dorothea Lange photograph, it is, as much as anything, a coming-of-age story. Garret has an instinct for survival, but the slow erosion of her hope for a better future in which she will be united with her missing father makes for extraordinarily moving reading.”

The Guardian (UK)

“So magnificently combines these two genres [crime novels and Westerns]…This is where Greaves is at his best – in these quiet moments in between all the “action.” He weaves a terribly intricate and complex relationship that ultimately shows us what a tragic place the world can be for a young girl.  What also sets the novel apart is its prose. . .Some sentences linger on and on and pull at you until you’re out of breath and gasping. Others are brutally short, punching you in the gut. Greaves can devastate you or make you laugh. It’s really brilliant to read. … It is a wonderfully gripping tale set in an equally gripping location, and that will always be enough to keep me reading.”

The Durango Telegraph

“Greaves is the sort of formidable storyteller and mean prose-stylist that makes it look easy. With all the grit, suspense, pathos, and thrills you could ever ask for in a crime novel, Hard Twisted will leave you in knots.”

                                                —Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here

“Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Mailer, Capote and Berendt, Greaves has crafted a McCarthy-esque non-fiction novelisation that is, at once, both timeless and classic.  A truly extraordinary accomplishment, and a wonderful, wonderful book.  I was left speechless.”

–RJ Ellory, bestselling UK author of crime fiction

Hard Twisted reads like the perfect amalgam of Cormac McCarthy and Jim Thompson:  violent, hilarious, and as bracing and painful as the blow of a dog quirt across the face.  Utterly irresistible.”

Pinckney Benedict, Author of Dogs of God, The Wrecking Yard, Town Smokes and Miracle Boy and Other Stories, and Literature Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Impressive…a strong literary voice who can render period with authority and violence without sensationalism.”

Publishers Weekly

 “Greaves’ understated writing captures the dry, raw-boned beauty of the land and reproduces the distinctive dialect of that time and place with a pitch-perfect ear . . . Comparisons to Cormac McCarthy, another writer of unflinching Western stories, feel apt.  In its historical weight and narrative power, HARD TWISTED is as epic as the rugged mesas and range its characters inhabit.”

High Country News

“It feels like a classic because of Greaves’s stylish writing, because of the story’s drama, and because of the powerful theme—how Lottie’s believable, determined innocence and faith kept her whole.”

Historical Novel Society

“Lottie’s narration, a mix of naïvete and hard-won toughness, is heartbreaking in its plainspoken recounting of the facts behind a nightmare, but all the characters, even Palmer—a sociopath to his core—reveal flickerings of inner lives that confound our attempts to pigeonhole this seemingly archetypal Depression tragedy.”

Booklist
(& A Booklist Top 10 Crime Fiction Audiobook of 2013)

“The research and historical accuracy of Hard Twisted, combined with Greaves’ commitment to pulling no punches in telling the story, explain why the novel was named Best Historical Novel in the SouthWest Writers’ International Writing Contest. It should be the first of many such honors.”

Durango Herald

“Greaves’s deft prose twinkles like Okie campfires (in the night). Storytelling at its most compelling: raw, yet tender and as dangerous as warm moonshine breath on a young girl’s neck.”

Sir Alan Parker, English film director, producer, writer and actor of films including Bugsy Malone, Fame, and The Life of David Gale

Hard Twisted is fictional crime, with an exceptional true story as its spine, written in a superbly innovative way.  Charles Greaves has penned a remarkably fine novel in prose as stylish and engaging as one will find among the most popular authors in this genre.  This compelling saga of murder, mystery, and good and evil at its rawest in the hardscrabble rural Southwest of the 1930s should capture and fascinate a wide readership.”

Vincent Bugliosi, New York Times-bestselling author of Helter Skelter

“The remarkably accurate historical voice…will draw teens into this beautifully written fictionalized account of real western murders. Readers will hunger to know more of Lottie’s motives and thoughts as she seems relegated to the background of her own story, which seems appropriate to the ways in which girls and women were seen at the time… the language enriches the feeling of being in the West of the 1930s. Readers will hang on to the bitter end, trying to figure out exactly what happened and what will become of Lottie.”

–School Library Journal

“[For] Crime-lovers who want a genuinely gripping read.”

Glamour  (UK)

“Reads like a cross between Cormac McCarthy, True Grit, and the Bonnie and Clyde story.  A riveting and stylistically stripped-down tale . . . Greaves has in common with Hammett an ability to portray whole lives or landscapes in a few choice words, and his evocation of place is something to behold . . . Impressive stuff.”

The Big Issue

“With delectable descriptions that place the reader not only back in 1930s America but right alongside the main protagonists, Lucile and Clint, Hard Twisted is one of the most gorgeously drawn novels of the year . . . the prose are bordering poetic . . . the pace of the book being bullet quick and glass-shard sharp so that readers can on occasion feel themselves physically flinch . . . [Hard Twisted] heralds a new master in the Crime Fiction stable.”

-Chris High Review

Hard Twisted might have happened years ago but the story is relevant today in dealing with anyone who seems to have an answer to everything, logical or not, and what happened to those who chose to challenge the psychotic mind.”

The Midwest Book Review

“Based on a true story, set against historical events and told mostly from Lottie’s perspective, this is dynamite, authoritative  writing with just a whiff of Cormac McCarthy.”

Qantas (Australia)

“Filled with eloquent prose, artful detail, and fascinating bits of Southwest American lore…a skillfully-written, moving book that deserves to be read as closely and carefully as it was written.”

Four Corners Free Press

“Superbly atmospheric.”

The Border Mail (Australia)

“Lawyer Greaves became intrigued by two bullet-ridden skulls he found. This debut novel, influenced by Cormac McCarthy, is a fictionalisation of the case.  What results is a Western noir, on and off the road… the dialogue and setting are superbly atmospheric.”

Sun Herald and Sunday Age (Australia)

“A yarn of real grit . . . well-written and packed with colour and character.”

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney)

“It is this layering of the literary on the sordid that makes this book worth reading . . . Greaves turns the story into something epic, a picture of an entire country at a point in history, and his writing style pulls you in.”

Sunday Times (India)

“A compelling and tragic story…Style and narrative, description and character blend seamlessly to produce a gripping novel from a bold writer committed to his material.”

Newtown Review of Books (Australia)

“It is one of those super-interesting, thinly-promoted gems of literature which cross my desk only once in a blue moon that are so good they should be required reading in high school English classes. … Greaves describes people and events in vivid, accurate prose that’s as rare and beautiful as the southwestern countryside the action takes place in.  The research is accurate, meticulous and minute in detail.  The reader becomes so engrossed that readers can almost feel red grit dust in their mouth, see and feel the solitude, the terror and the outcome roaring at them like an out of control diesel locomotive.  If you’re curious about the depression, the dust bowl or a heretofore untold western saga, you’ll want to read Hard Twisted. Superlatives aside, this one’s simply outstanding.  It will be enjoyed by all who choose to read it.”

–John Dwaine McKenna

“Echoing William Faulkner… this account of bleak struggle and retribution is gripping. Look out for it.”

Shots Magazine

A FINALIST FOR THE 2013 OKLAHOMA BOOK AWARD IN FICTION