Hard Twisted Talk: Verdict Roundup


As the release date for Hard Twisted approaches, the reviews are piling. Check out these links and excerpts below:

A starred review from Library Journal!

Compelling novel…Readers can’t help but open their hearts to Lottie. …Her story with all its gritty details and twists deserves wide readership.

Another rave from High Country News!

 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.

Have you been convinced yet to read Hard Twisted? No? OK, here’s some more!

The Historical Novel Society recommends it:

The fact that this is based on a true story adds to its chilling suspense. Greaves impressively brings alive Lottie’s year with Palmer; it felt as real to me as my own childhood. This is Lottie’s story, from start to finish. Greaves effectively intersperses court transcripts (fictitious—no real transcript survived) to show how the world in 1934 might see a girl like Lottie, “with [her] schoolgirl charms and [her] feminine wiles.” I was so worried about what happened to Lottie that I’d read less than 50 pages when I had to turn to the author’s note to find out what her fate would be. Even after I knew how it would end, Hard Twisted grabbed me and didn’t let go. 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. Although Hard Twisted will never be shelved with inspirational books, it inspired me. It’s a real-life morality tale, no preaching needed. Recommended.

The Big Thrill interview is here, as is this very kind, albeit brief critical response:

Researching an incident of social impact and resurrecting its mythology  as thrilling literature in the TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG(2000) contributed to Peter Carey’s Booker prizes. In a different time-space, C. Joseph Greaves’ HARD TWISTED is in the same class.

From Booklist’s forthcoming November 15th issue

Drawing on a famous Depression-era murder case—the 1935 “Skeleton Murder” in Greenville, Texas—Greaves extrapolates from the historical record to look inside the principals’ hearts and minds. In May 1934, 13-year-old Lottie Garrett and her father, Dillard, are homeless, standing by a dusty road in Oklahoma, when Clint Palmer, recently released from Leavenworth, picks them up with promises of work and food. So begins a one-year odyssey in which Palmer, apparently after murdering Dillard, rapes Lottie and claims her as his wife before embarking on an interstate crime spree with Lottie in tow. It culminates with the double murder that made the pair famous (trial transcripts are interspersed within the story). 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. There are echoes of Robert Altman’s great 1974 film Thieves like Us here, but most of all Lottie evokes the steely but tender heart of Ree Dolly in Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone (2006). — Bill Ott

And, lastly, check out the current issue of Mystery Readers Journal–I’ve got an article in there.


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