THE PALLBEARER is Jordan Farmer's debut novel. It will be published November 6th 2018 by Skyhorse Publishing.
Lynch, West Virginia - a poverty stricken town in the dying coal region - is ruled by the ruthless criminal Ferris Gilbert. When Ferris' younger brother is incarcerated at a juvenile facility, Ferris manipulates and threatens social worker, Jason Felts, into smuggling a deadly item into the jail. Jason, who only wants to help people, is forced to choose between saving Huddles Gilbert or himself and his loved ones. Terry Blankenship - another troubled youth - finds himself in debt to Ferris. To pay off his debt, Terry agrees to murder the local sheriff and then leave the area. When things go sideways, Ferris, Huddles, Terry, and Jason find themselves caught up in a dangerous game that not all of them will survive.
I found THE PALLBEARER to be an interesting and gritty novel, but I just couldn't get into the story. While most of the characters were sympathetic, none of them were really likable and I just didn't care about any of them. The story is also very dark and violent. There are a few moments of redemption.
Farmer did bring to life the fictional Appalachian town with true-to-life descriptions and details. The residents of Lynch are just trying to survive - the coal mining industry has collapsed and the area has fallen into ruin - and some of them have been forced into a life of crime. Farmer also takes on numerous difficult topics - animal cruelty, homophobia, juvenile delinquency, physical altercations, dwarfism, and violence.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.