IG Publishing, PBK, $15.95, 286 pages, ISBN 978-193543947-9
Ghosting by Kirby Gann is a new genre loosely termed “southern noir.” Noir, as regular readers of the MBR know, is dark, gloomy and generally concerns the troubled members of society, the outsiders, outlaws and outlandish ones among us . . . many of whom are involved in all types of criminal activity. Traditionally, noir stories take place in cities, but an increasing number of them are plotted and happen in the rural south: southern noir.
Ghosting is all about drugs; the use of, growing of, transporting of, the dealing, selling and control of drugs within defined geographic areas . . . in this case Pirtle County, Kentucky. In place of the usual collection of hip, inner-city characters, we’re introduced to a motley and sinister bunch of white southern rednecks engaged in organized crime. The group is controlled by Lawrence Greuel, who is dying, while his empire is being siphoned away by his partner, a ruthless sociopath named Arley Noe.
As the novel begins, Fleece Skaggs and Mister Greuel’s entire marijuana harvest for the year has gone missing; his younger half-brother Cole decides to take Fleeces place as a drug-runner, to try to find out what became of him, while their pill-addicted mother Lyda glides through the story looking for her next bottle of prescription pain-killers. Ghosting is a moody, atmospheric novel with some of the same best lyrical prose I’ve read in some time . . . and one of the most graphically vicious scenes I’ve ever read. Every page brought a new twist, or new surprise. If you want to read something new and different, it’s for you. I enjoyed it immensely.