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All booksThrillerThe Line That Held Us
The Line That Held Us by David Joy

The Line That Held Us

by David Joy

Quick take

This Appalachian tale of accidental murder and vigilante justice would do Cormac McCarthy proud.

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    Fast read

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Why I love it

Siobhan Jones
BOTM Editorial Team

You may be wondering why we didn’t classify this book as a thriller. We could’ve used the umbrella term, but isn’t “Appalachian noir” so much better? It’s a label that author David Joy sometimes uses to characterize his writing, which is often about ordinary, hard-working people in shady, dire situations. Think smoking guns and shadowy outlaws, but in the backcountry. I mean, how can you not want to read this?

Darl Moody is just a regular guy trying to fill his freezer with deer meat before winter comes. When he goes hunting, he doesn’t expect to accidentally bring down a human—and he definitely doesn’t expect to fell Carol Brewer of the infamously violent Brewer family, a clan that even “Jesus Christ couldn’t have saved.” Despite his attempts to cover his tracks, Darl’s mistake conjures a revenge tornado in the form of the murderous Dwayne Brewer, whose grief will only be tempered when he delivers vengeance to Darl and those closest to him.

Think Cormac McCarthy, Tarantino, or your favorite Coen Brothers film. That’s the kind of rollicking, oh-shit-what’s-gonna-happen-next ride you’re in for here. This is also a surprisingly philosophical book. Who gets to mete out justice? Isn’t “an eye for an eye” fair? For all its homespun wisdom, though, what The Line That Held Us really nails is the plot—and what could be plottier than the woodland disputes of trigger-happy vigilantes? So get this book, hunker down, and enjoy!

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When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he’s chased for years, he never expected he’d accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he’s killed a Brewer, a family notorious for vengeance and violence. With nowhere to turn, Darl calls on the help of the only man he knows will answer—his best friend, Calvin Hooper. But when Dwayne Brewer comes looking for his missing brother and stumbles onto a blood trail leading straight back to Darl and Calvin, a nightmare of revenge rips apart their world. The Line That Held Us is a story of friendship and family, a tale balanced between destruction and redemption where the only hope is to hold on tight, clenching to those you love. What will you do for the people who mean the most, and what will you grasp to when all that you have is gone? The only certainty in a place so shredded is that no one will get away unscathed.

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Get an early look from the first pages of David Joy's The Line That Held Us.

Member thoughts

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All (3335)
Love (992)
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3488 ratings
  • 28% Love
  • 50% Like
  • 17% Dislike
  • Denver, CO

    This book took my breath away. It’s strength lies in it’s gorgeous diction and its brutally raw portrayal of rural, poor Appalachia. I didn’t care about the story and I don’t care that I didn’t care.

  • Pocahontas , AR

    Action FIRST THING! Almost too soon because I don’t feel I had connected with any of the characters yet. But WOW! And it never stopped! But it’s also a story of love for friends and family. Good read!

  • Kingsport , TN

    Being an Appalachian native, I appreciated the way Joy wrote about the culture. The characters are well developed and drew me in... It’s pretty dark and raw, but I couldn’t stop reading until the end!

  • Millbrook, AL

    If you like Hatfield and McCoys then you’ll love this book! I couldn’t put this book down! It kept me turning the pages to see what was going to happen. I will be reading more from this author now!

  • Wausau, WI

    I found it gritty, dark and immersive. It is a short book, but utterly engrossing. Sometimes it’s a little too intense, but it is so vividly written and the characters so well defined that it was hard

  • Greensboro, NC

    This is one of those books that sticks with you long after you finish! The writing was lyrical and the imagery was gripping. I couldn’t put this one down! Not for the faint of heart, but worth a read.

  • Windsor , PA

    This book is an example of contemporary fiction at its finest. Well-paced with character depth and nuance, David Joy’s writing is reminiscent of the works of Charles Frazier but with a grittier drawl.

  • Saint Peter, MN

    I loved the characterization of Appalachia and the development of the characters. The weaving of deep philosophy was fantastic. I would say that this was very much a masculine book, but better for it.

  • Scotia, NY

    WOW !!! I read this book in less than two weeks, which is fast for me. I didn't want to put it down ! There were parts where I thought it could have used more developing, but all is forgiven now.

  • Cherry Hill, NJ

    Really enjoyed this book. It was dark but kept me hooked, even with a predictable ending. I enjoyed the multiple viewpoints of the story and loved some of the descriptive prose. A good read overall

  • West Seneca, NY

    This book kept me guessing. There were multiple twists and turns I never saw coming, including the ending. The imagery Joy used to describe the setting makes you feel like you are with the characters.

  • Conrad, MT

    Depth and cultural power play. With a quick pace of presentation the author dives deeply into each character's persona and provides a thrilling insight into backwoods life and its social complexities.

  • Greensburg, PA

    This was a fantastically beautiful book. It's a very masculine book, but it includes a glimpse into the emotional depth of men that is usually kept secret. Made me want to hug the "bad guy." Gorgeous.

  • Fletcher, NC

    The characters, the action, the story - all add up to one riveting novel. The realest character here though is the setting - Joy perfectly captures the feel of the western NC mountains with his prose.

  • Spring Arbor, MI

    In this hill-billy thriller of vengeance, David Joy brings together family, love, God, revenge, life, and what it means to live when the motivation of life is tested - finished in less than 24 hours!

  • Anchorage, AK

    This book reads so fluidly even through multiple points of view. It was so hard to put down. I stayed up late reading needing to know what happens next. My heart raced. I am left haunted by this book.

  • las cruces, NM

    Thrilling & grounded in the environment the story emerges, the authors attention to detail is mesmerizing. The characters & the landscape are described with such rich detail that the pages keep turnin

  • Salt lake city, UT

    David Joy's 'The Line That Held Us' messed me up for days. I had to stop my self and just breathe reminding myself that i dont know these people. Vivid imagry, and beautifully written highly recommend

  • Dallas, TX

    Out of my literary comfort zone, I was surprised by how much I loved this gritty tale. This book was certainly thought-provoking and I still think about the characters months after I finished reading

  • Odessa, TX

    Reading chapter through chapter I was consistently shocked. This read isn’t for the light of heart. The imagery is powerful even when you don’t necessarily want the visuals the author conjures.

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