This is the latest in the rural noir pile, and 50 or so pages in feels like a very good entry indeed.
From the Blurb:
Perhaps if Sweetapple hadn’t stopped to help the idiots who had just near run him off the road in their ute, things may have gone entirely differently.
Times are tough for everybody and Graeme Sweetapple is making the best of what land he has left. Once the Sweetapple family owned a working farm but now the holding is small, and Sweetapple is not producing enough of an income to support his dog, let alone fund his own needs. A little work for a neighbour sometimes brings in the coin, as does Sweetapple’s occasional side hustle of stealing cattle. It is the latter activity that Sweetapple is engaged in one night when he stops to helps two people out of a car wreck. Both are activists from the site of a nearby coal mine, carrying some dangerous stolen goods in their vehicle. Before the cops get there, Sweetapple finds himself agreeing to take the dismantled parts of a bomb away in his truck, without the slightest clue of what it is he will do with them.
Sweetapple’s flighty young love interest Carson is not sure that Sweetapple should be doing any work at all for super shady Bob from next door, and that includes teaching Bob’s ex politician wife how to ride. Tasked to steal a gorgeous horse named Retribution for Bob, Sweetapple falls for the mare and soon realizes he hasn’t been paying enough attention to Carson who has struck up a friendship with Luke, another town drifter with his own secrets and struggles to hide. The three of them come together to form a plan of revenge when Bob reclaims Retribution from Sweetapple’s care. The purity of hate sweeps across Sweetapple to meet destruction with destruction.
A rural-crime novel about finding out how to survive and surviving what you find.
In a small country town, an act of revenge causes five lives to collide. Early one Christmas morning, Graeme Sweetapple, a man down on his luck, is heading home with a truck full of stolen steers when he comes across an upended ute that has hit a tree. He is about to get involved with Luke, an environmental protestor who isn’t what he seems; a washed-up local politician, Caroline Statham, who is searching for a sense of purpose, but whose businessman husband seems to be sliding into corruption; and Carson, who is wild, bound to no one, and determined to escape her circumstances.
Into their midst comes Retribution, a legendary horse worth a fortune. Her disappearance triggers a cycle of violence and retaliation that threatens the whole community. As tensions build, they must answer one question: is true retribution ever possible — or even desirable?