The Hush by John Hart
St. Martin’s Press, $27.99, 418 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-01230-2
One of the awesomest young writers to come down the literary turnpike in the new millennium is a southern gothic wordsmith named John Hart. The accolades, superlatives and awards directed at him keep piling up at an astonishing rate; making him one of the hottest new novelists; one that all thriller enthusiasts will want to be acquainted with. He’s just finished an electrifying new installment in the saga of Johnny Merrimon, the pure-hearted prince of bad-assery we first meet in The Last Child. Now, he’s returned in The Hush.
Ten years have passed since Johnny Merrimon came home from prison and made the discovery that upended life in the small North Carolina town where he was born and raised. The case was so sensational that books have been written about it and news people of all disciplines around the world have beleaguered him day and night, looking for additional gossip to add to the astonishing story. Shunning all publicity, Johnny has taken up residence in the middle of a six-thousand acre swamp known as Hush Arbor. It’s the last of a fifty-thousand acre tract that was owned, and lost, by his great, great grandfather in the decade before the Civil War. But the chain of ownership has a flaw in it because the Hush, as it’s called by the locals, was first gifted to some freed slaves and reverted back to Johnny due to a certain clause that’s being contested by the descendants of the freed men. Johnny’s prevailed in the court proceeding, but the decision’s been appealed, with the trial about to begin. Johnny Merrimon however, is broke. He ekes out a subsistence living from the land, and his only hope at trial is Jack Cross, a boyhood friend with a newly minted law degree, who specializes in tax law. The other side is backed by a hedge fund billionaire who wants the land for a private hunting preserve where trophy animals thrive in profusion. The Hush, however, is a notoriously strange place. The local folk avoid it . . . for those who do enter it get lost, die, or come out catatonic; unable to talk because they’ve been scared out of their minds by something unspeakable that lurks out there. It’s something evil and ancient, something cursed, unholy and undead. All of which only adds to the legend of Johnny Merrimon. Has he made a deal with the Devil . . . or is Johnny some sort of a supernatural being? The only way to find out, is to read this thrilling novel for yourself and you, like the MBR, will be all in for the works of John Hart, the only writer to ever win the coveted Edgar Award in back-to-back, consecutive years. To paraphrase legendary Texas songwriter Billy Joe Shaver: “John Hart is the real . . . real, real deal!”