Author(s): Smith, Michael Farris
In this brilliant novel set against the dark and desolate backdrop of the Mississippi Delta, a washed-up bare-knuckle fighter, battles against decades of booze and drug abuse as he returns home to try and save all he has lost. The acres and acres of fertile soil, the two-hundred year old antebellum house, all gone. And so is the woman who gave it to him, the foster mother who saved Jack from a childhood of abandonment in the care system, who now rests in a hospice, her mind eroded by dementia, the family legacy she entrusted to Jack now owned by banks and strangers. And Jack's mind has begun to fail, too, as concussion after concussion forces him to carry around a notebook of names that separate friend from foe and remind him of dangerous haunts to avoid. But in a single twisted night he is derailed. Hijacked by a no-good harmonica player out to settle a score, Jack loses the money that will clear his debt with Big Momma Sweet, the queen of Delta vice, whose deep backwoods playground offers sin to all those willing to pay. Yet this same chain of events introduces an unlikely saviour in the form of a sultry, tattooed carnival worker. Guided by what she calls her ‘church of coincidence’, Annette pushes Jack toward redemption in her own free-spirited way, only to discover that the world of Big Momma Sweet is filled with savage danger. Damaged by regret, crippled by twenty-five years of fists and elbows, heartbroken at his own betrayals, Jack is forced to step into the fighting pit one last time, the stakes nothing less than life or death.