My Brother’s Destroyer
My Brother’s Destroyer by Clayton Lindemuth is what you would get if John Wick was written by an Appalachian Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In this novel, Baer Creighton is a good old backwoods moonshine distiller who has spent the last several decades of his life living in the woods behind his house and making the best ‘shine in the county. He stays far away from most folks because he’s got a special talent, or curse, which allows him to tell when people are lying: he sees their eyes turn red and gets an electric shock, just like when he received the gift via electrocution when he was a child. Baer is just minding his own business, and his still, when his dog Fred is stolen, dumped into a dog fight ring, and returned to him mostly dead. His quest to figure out who stole his dog leads him deep into conflict with the county’s meanest men as the situation spirals well and truly out of control.
Lindemuth has created a beautifully seamless reality for the reader to fall into, a world just a little bit magically real and full of righteous vengeance. While written in a southern slang, the writing is smooth and engaging, lending just the right amount of flavor to the text without causing the reader to stumble. My favorite phrasing in the whole book is “’preciate you,” standing in place of “I appreciate it.” The descriptions are vibrant and down-to-earth, just like Baer, and the world is so painstakingly real that Baer’s abilities fade into it and become just as real as the scenery surrounding him.
The characters in this novel are just as well constructed as the language and setting. The good guys are flawed enough to be well and truly human, and the bad guys are given motivation enough to not be caricatures of themselves. You can feel where everyone is coming from, even as you condemn them for their actions. The novel is refreshingly free of clichés and stereotypes, and every character is given enough time and attention to make them a full-fledged person and not a cardboard cutout.
If you enjoy stories of betrayal and vengeance, with just a touch of the unreal, My Brother’s Destroyer is a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it for your next book.
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|Mystery, Crime, Thriller