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Review: Family trouble in Florida town turns dark in 'Lightwood'

Correspondent

‘Lightwood’ By Steph Post. Polis, 304 pages, $25.95

Remote Florida and the strong, sometimes destructive pull of blood ties meld for a gritty tale that firmly joins the current trend of rural noir.

In “Lightwood,” Steph Post shows a flair for delving into the dark side of small towns and the even darker drive of families. While most of the realistic characters in “Lightwood” are not likable, Post makes us care deeply about what will happen to each, much as authors Daniel Woodrell and Elmore Leonard have done in their works.

Newly paroled Judah Cannon returns to his hometown of Silas, Florida, a rural wide spot in the road ruled by his corrupt father, Sherwood, and older brother, Levi. Judah wants to go straight — a common plot twist in mysteries — but knows that he may not avoid being pulled into his family’s schemes. As much as he despises his hometown and what his family has become, he also has no place else to go. And, as his heartless father reminds him, “Without family, you got nothing.”

The only good thing in Silas is Ramey Barrow, his best friend from childhood who is now his lover and who lets him stay with her.

Sherwood’s latest scheme involves robbing the Scorpions biker gang of $150,000 they cleared from dealing drugs for Sister Tulah Atwell, a greedy, ruthless evangelist who earns her money from intimidating her congregation. Naturally, nothing goes well.

Post infuses enough twists in “Lightwood” to keep the story intriguing, and sets up a most welcomed return to Silas.

Meet the author

Alex Segura will discuss “Dangerous Ends” and Steph Post will discuss “Lightwood” at 7 p.m. May 11 at Murder on the Beach, 273 Pineapple Grove Way, Delray Beach, 561-279-7790, and at 7 p.m. on May 12 at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, 305-442-4408.

Oline H. Cogdill can be reached at olinecog@aol.com.

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