A mystery story that also weaves in Appalachian folktales and humor. Hard to get into at first, but develops into a good read.
I expected more from this book that I got from reading it. I think a lot of this book is setting up the series and characters. I didn't really care about the characters very much. Nothing in it jumped out at me. I liked the setting, makes you want to take a road trip to Georgia.
The Devil's Hearth has many well drawn characters and absolutely beautiful descriptions of the scenery. He makes you want to get to know these people better. The mystery kept me interested. The story was well crafted and intriguing. I'll definitely read more in this series.
Dr. Fever Devilin, a folklore specialist, has left his university position to go back home: the Appalachian mountains of Georgia. He doesn't even make it in the door before finding a corpse on the front porch of his cabin - a corpse that looks disturbingly like him. His old friends seem to know a lot more about what's going on than he does which very much disturbs Devilin, who is now feeling like an outsider. But with the help of a sheriff's deputy (one of the old friends) and a university colleague, he uncovers plenty of old secrets including some shockers about himself.
The beginning cracked me up. Here's Devilin and his friend Skidmore, the deputy, standing there staring at the corpse when there's a gunshot and one of the windows shatters. Do they yelp and hit the ground? Do they scramble for cover? No, they make a couple comments in loud voices about the shooter, and wander over behind the squad car. Because, as Devilin explains, the folks around there are good enough shots that if anyone wanted to kill them, they'd be dead already, so no point in getting upset.
Plenty of interesting characters in this story, even if a few of them seem like Deliverance stereotypes. I especially liked the woodworker and Skidmore. Very good sense of place in this novel, you get a good feel for the mountains and the community. I had a harder time getting into Devilin's head but I suspect that is deliberate on the part of the author, he is supposed to be somewhat of a closed book. Looks like there are a few more in this series, but this one stands alone quite nicely.