THE DEVIL’S COUNTRY
Author: Harry Hunsicker
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Series: Arlo Baines #1
Genre: Mystery Suspense
BACK COVER BLURB
Former Texas Ranger Arlo Baines didn’t come to the tiny West Texas town of Piedra Springs to cause trouble. After his wife and children were murdered, Arlo just wants to be left alone. Moving from place to place seems to be the only thing that eases the pain of his family’s violent end.
But a chance encounter outside a bar forces him to rescue a terrified woman and her children from mysterious attackers. When the woman turns up murdered the next day—her children missing—Arlo becomes the primary suspect in exactly the same type of crime he is trying desperately to forget.
Haunted by the fate of his family, and with the police questioning the existence of the dead woman’s children, Arlo decides it’s his duty to find them. The question is, just how deep will he have to sink into the dusty secrets of Piedra Springs to save them and clear his name?
WHAT I THOUGHT
THE DEVIL’S COUNTRY, while a decently written mystery, nonetheless reads like the author has read one too many Jack Reacher novels penned by Lee Childs. While in and of itself, The Devil’s Country, set in east Texas, has its moments, I kept feeling like I had read this all before. What with the Russian mobsters with the bad accents, the neo-nazis with ‘racists’ tattooed on their foreheads, and the religious cult terrorising the town. It’s all a little clichéd in places.
Arlo Baines has something of a twisted past, seen in flashback, that accompanies the action and actions of Baines in the present; that of trying to save two lost children, who remind him of his own. At first, as the story unfolds, you feel a certain sympathy for Baines, and cheer him on in what he’s trying to do, though still feeling like this is written as a prelude to a movie deal. But as we follow Arlo in the present, one man trying to do right, we learn about the tragic events that have shaped him.
Sadly, the more I read, the less sympathy I had for Baines, as a man, even as he tries his best to do what’s right in the present.
I guess it all comes down to can a good man who makes one terrible mistake, putting him on the wrong side of the law he’s sworn to uphold, then find redemption in an act of bravery? Especially given his error in judgement cost him not only his standing, his job, but the ultimate sacrifice—the loss of his wife and children.
For me, good cop turned bad cop or, in this case, Texas Ranger, was a little hard to swallow. Never mind the somewhat contrived ending was a little too convenient. I really would have liked to have seen a little more in-depth character development.
Fans of Jack Reacher might like this, otherwise, I’d suggest looking for something else.