When These Mountains Burn Summary

When These Mountains Burn Summary

When These Mountains Burn Summary by David Joy

A new story from the remarkable storyteller David Joy, When these mountains burn summary tells how an addict, a lawman and a father come into union with each other following explosive turns of events.

Raymond Mathis has an addicted one in his household: his very own son. Struggling from a lack of sanity, the kid gets himself deep in trouble with the dealer. Raymond sacrifices everything he has to bail the son out one last time. The law has proved itself incapable for the troubles his family has to go through, so the man decides to make things work themselves.

Denny Rattler got injured in his work and went unemployed in pain, both spiritually and physically. Spend his days chasing the next high, he keeps up the habit by stealing, keeping himself under and stay out of the justice system. One occasion, tempted by juicy opportunities, Denny does the one thing that makes him lose his safety net.

The DEA has been tagging with a drug chain far up on the mountain, with the lead being only one word. However, as it inexorably cracks the case open, the agent needs help from the one that he could have never imagined.


This is a definite recommendation for readers who adore well-written plot and heartfelt details. The themes deal with a difficult yet relevant issue: drug addiction. The disheartening subject is adorn by creativity and thrilling surprises. It is a work of fiction, yet the realism here is unflinching. Check this one out if you are a noir fan. 

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When These Mountains Burn summary

David Joy is the author of the Edgar nominated novel Where All Light Tends to Go (Putnam, 2015), as well as the novels The Weight Of This World (Putnam, 2017), The Line That Held Us (Putnam, 2018), and When These Mountains Burn (Putnam, 2020). His memoir, Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award for Creative Nonfiction. His latest stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Garden & Gun, and The Bitter Southerner. He is the recipient of an artist fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council. His work is represented by Julia Kenny of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. He lives in Jackson County, North Carolina.


One of Publishers Weekly 2020 Summer Reads

“Slow-burning. . . With memorable characters, deft plotting, and an attention to detail, Joy has written a powerful work of crime fiction."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Unforgettably powerful. . . What stands out here isn’t the story [but] rather Joy’s unflinching and gritty depiction of his fully realized characters, from their raw loss to their helplessness and rage to their final acceptance. Joy has thoroughly captured their experiences in vivid, memorable prose that burns to be read.”—BookPage

"Joy portrays his characters with unflinching realism. Creative turns of phrase and creative colloquialisms move the story forward and keep the otherwise disheartening subject matter full of thrilling surprises. As Southern noir-tinged fiction gains a well-deserved audience, Joy is one voice that never disappoints.”—Booklist

“[An] engrossing drama of violence and vengeance. . . Joy’s razor-sharp prose details disturbing, graphic images of brutality that begin when Raymond resolves to protect his son. . .  Joy handles everything with ease, proving himself to be one hell of a writer.”—Publishers Weekly

"Outstanding. . . When These Mountains Burn is a crime novel, surely – and a damn good one – but it’s also a snapshot of small-town America at a fracture point, when the least of the concerns is the fire that could consume everyone, all at once.”—USA Today

"Joy is a master of prose...If you are after a beautifully written dark addition story—[When These Mountains Burn] is your best bet."—Criminal Element

“Appalachian noir at its finest...Joy's storytelling is top-notch (and not for the faint of heart), and you'll find yourself turning pages deep into the night. But it's his knack for capturing a sense of place that really brings the hammer down.”—Garden & Gun

“The story is fast-moving, the characters are richly fleshed out, and despite its gritty settings and subject matter, wraps up with a sense of redemption and hope for the possibility of better days ahead. Simply put, Joy is at the top of his game.”—Sylva Herald

“Revelatory . . . Indelible characters from every side of the law converge in this fast-moving story. As fine a piece of writing as you are ever likely to encounter.”—Lee Smith, author of Guests on Earth

"This is the sort of novel I love. No world wide conspiracies, or super crimes. Just flawed folks making bad choices, then having to live with the deadly consequences. David Joy has quickly become one of my favorite authors in the tradition of such fine novelist as Larry Brown and William Gay. Highly recommended."—Joe R. Lansdale, author of The Elephant of Surprise