Rural Noir (Adults)

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Article in Category:Adult Fiction and Category:Location.

Rural Noir, also known as Country Noir, Backwoods Noir, Grit Lit, or Hick Lit

Drawing on the Southern Gothic literary tradition of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor married with the hardboiled noir style of crime fiction like that of James Cain, rural noir features the criminal element of hardscrabble characters in ramshackle, backwoods environs. Usually Southern or Midwestern, these are desperate areas in hard times, and the stories that come out of them are full of moody atmosphere and humanity laid bare. Plenty of family feuds and revenge gone awry. Characters are tough, smart, and resourceful, and the criminal element adds grit and violence, often tempered by a dark humor.

Looking for a great listen in this genre? Try the S-Town podcast.

Ace Atkins

  • Especially his Quinn Colson series - Start with The Ranger - Northeast Mississippi, hill country, rugged and notorious for outlaws since the Civil War, where killings are as commonplace as in the Old West. To Quinn Colson, it's home-but not the home he left when he went to Afghanistan. Now an Army Ranger, he returns to a place overrun by corruption, and finds his uncle, the county sheriff, dead-a suicide, he's told, but others whisper murder. In the days that follow, it will be up to Colson to discover the truth, not only about his uncle, but about his family, his friends, his town, and not least about himself. And once the truth is discovered, there is no turning back.

Frank Bill

Larry Brown

Bonnie Jo Campbell

Wiley Cash

Harry Crews

Amy Engel

Tom Franklin

  • Crooked Letter Crooked Letter - Two men from two different worlds in 1970s rural Mississippi - friends as boys, not grown apart, must deal with secrets from the past when a girl goes missing.

David Joy

  • Where All Light Tends To Go - Set in North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains, eighteen-year-old Jacob McNeely is torn between appeasing his meth-dealing kingpin father and leaving the mountains forever with the girl he loves.

Elmore Leonard

Matthew McBride

  • A Swollen Red Sun - Crystal meth cooker Jerry Dean Skaggs is caught between a rock (his vengeful dealer) and hard place (prison) when a large amount of cash is taken by a deputy sheriff who knows better. The darker side of their small Missouri town is shaken by the consequences of what unfolds.

Chris Offutt

Donald Ray Pollock

Ron Rash

John Straley

  • Especially his Cecil Younger series – the Alaskan geography is a bit remote from others on this list, but the taut suspense in a frontier atmosphere is right on
Try The Woman Who Married a Bear first - An undercurrent of crime and family feuds drive the investigation into a murder of a prominent Alaskan businessman and big-game hunter by hard-drinking private eye Cecil Younger.

Jim Thompson

  • The Killer Inside Me - the chilling story of deputy Lou Ford and the degradation of his small West Texas town and the people in it.

Steve Weddle

Benjamin Whitmer

Daniel Woodrell