Joy’s third novel, The Line that Held Us, wraps this brooding portrait of contemporary Appalachian life in a riveting story about an accidental killing and the ensuing retribution that spirals out of control. Darl Moody habitually skirts the law when it comes to poaching and the strictures of hunting season—it’s the only way he can guarantee there is food on his extended family’s table. One night, as he pursues an elusive buck through the backwoods of Coon Coward’s land, he takes aim at what he thinks is a wild boar. But his mistaken quarry proves to be another local, Carol Brewer, who has been illegally rooting through Coward’s valuable ginseng patch. When he realizes he has killed Brewer, Darl panics. He can’t call the police and report the accident, because no matter what punishment he might receive, Brewer’s pathologically deranged brother, Dwayne, would be sure to exact his own, much worse revenge. Darl desperately calls his lifelong best friend, Calvin Hooper, and together the two bury the dead man’s body. Wracked with guilt, Darl tries to put the incident behind him, but he was right about Dwayne. As the angry giant of a man begins to search for his brother, he finds clues that circle back to Darl and Calvin. In a tightly-knit world where everyone knows everyone’s business, and in fact most everyone is related by blood or marriage, there is no place to hide. As dark and violent events unfold, Darl and Calvin’s loyalty is put to the test, and their lives—and the life of Calvin’s girlfriend, Angie—hang in the balance.
David Joy’s first novel Where All Light Tends to Go debuted to great acclaim and was named an Edgar finalist for Best First Novel. His stories and essays have most recently appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Garden & Gun, and The Bitter Southerner, and he is the author of the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey. He lives in the Caney Fork community of Jackson County, North Carolina.