Country Dark

COUNTRY DARK                                           CHRIS OFFUTT

Tucker, a young veteran, returns from war to work for a bootlegger. He falls in love and starts a family, and while the Tuckers don’t have much, they have the love of their home and each other. But when his family is threatened, Tucker is pushed into violence, which changes everything. The story of people living off the land and by their wits in a backwoods Kentucky world of shine-runners and laborers whose social codes are every bit as nuanced as the British aristocracy, Country Dark is a novel that blends the best of Larry Brown and James M. Cain, with a noose tightening evermore around a man who just wants to protect those he loves. It reintroduces the vital and absolutely distinct voice of Chris Offutt, a voice we’ve been missing for years.

Chris Offutt is an outstanding literary talent, whose work has been called “lean and brilliant” (New York Times Book Review) and compared by reviewers to Tobias Wolff, Ernest Hemingway, and Raymond Carver. He’s been awarded the Whiting Writers Award for Fiction/Nonfiction and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Fiction Award, among numerous other honors. His first work of fiction in nearly two decades, Country Dark, is a taut, compelling novel set in rural Kentucky from the Korean War to 1970.


The author had me hooked the minute I began to read this book with the character of Tucker. Coming home from the Korean War Tucker is making his way back through the hills of Kentucky. He is remembering back to his time in the war, but also his time before he left the mountains. He begins to remember the mountains and the things he learned before he left. The sights the sounds, reasons the animals or birds leave. It is on his journey home when comes across a scene that he knows is wrong and steps in. By saving Rhonda he is also finding his wife and they begin a life together. Not one filled with glamour but just the two of them and their children. He is a bootlegger and a good one. Everything changes though when a bureaucrat wants to take their handicap children away. The mountain people have their own justice and Tucker deals with it his own way, with that man and with his boss that he runs shine for. The story has from the beginning to the end, the characters good or bad you get a feel for and you are wondering all the way to the ending what will happen. An excellent book and one that I would read again just for the enjoyment. Very much worth the read. I received this book from I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at

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