THE BUTCHER’S PRAYER, Crime Fiction/Noir, Fahrenheit 13, 275 pp.
Rodney Goodfellow watches his friend kill a man, and then volunteers the unthinkable – to carve up the body with his butcher’s knives in order to get rid of the evidence. But the victim’s girlfriend escapes halfway through the butchering, sending Rodney and the triggerman, Charles, on the run.
Charles is unhinged, flying high on meth. When it’s clear that escape isn’t a realistic possibility, he chooses chaos. He goes back looking for a little revenge, with Rodney and the girlfriend first on his list.
Hosea Elgin is a fallen preacher turned police detective…and Rodney’s brother-in-law. When he realizes Rodney is involved, he’s sickened, but he’s got to keep searching for his fugitives. He weighs loyalty to his job against loyalty to his family.
Rachel Goodfellow is Rodney’s wife and Hosea’s younger sister. She worries that Rodney might come looking for her in his time of need. He’s the father of her two children. Could they ever be a family again? Will her love for him overcome her revulsion, or will she be the one to turn him in?
And what about Hosea’s father, a Pentecostal pastor, and older brother, the pastor’s right hand man? Would they choose family over justice and give Rodney refuge in spite of Hosea?
Hosea and his partner are on the prowl, trying to find Rodney and Charles before they can kill again, but he never expects his own family to stand in his way. Ties are strained, faith is tested, and there has to be a breaking point.
“The Butcher’s Prayer is wine-dark noir, with a hammering and bloody heart. This is Smith at his bleak and soulful best.” — Laura Benedict, Edgar-nominated author of The Stranger Inside
“Anthony Neil Smith is a massive talent. One of the very best crime writers I’ve ever read.” — Allan Guthrie, author of Kiss Her Goodbye and Hard Man.
“Visceral, propulsive writing that cuts like a razor. Think Elmore Leonard with an injection of Southern Gothic. Heady stuff.” — Dan Fesperman, author of Safe Houses.
“Crime-fiction veteran Anthony Neil Smith wields a smooth yet serrated style that’s carved him two decades worth of fierce material, now being re-discovered by a younger upstart audience of modern noir enthusiasts. He possesses such an acute, vivid feel of time and place in his subjects, his stories immediately burrow into my memory and remain long, withstanding the static storms of our contemporary attention-deficits. It’s challenging stuff, yet wholly accessible; with spiking dark humor that confirms sure you still have a pulse.” — Gabriel Hart, author of Fallout From Our Asphalt Hell
Forgiveness was out of the
question. Not after what he’d done.
No matter he’d been filled
with the Holy Ghost, spoken in tongues, washed in the sweet blood of the Lamb.
Rodney Goodfellow was
Four in the morning. He
fled the scene in his pickup soon as they saw the girl had escaped. He left
Charles behind, let him find his own way out.
Blood on Rodney’s clothes.
His butchering tools abandoned in Charles’ garage on a vinyl boat cover, the
work they’d done once the meeting went bad.
Rodney’s truck was steamy,
no A/C. His glasses fogged up. He rolled down the window. The June air on the
Mississippi coast rushing by at seventy miles per hour was as cool as it was
going to get all day. Most of his sweat was from fear, though.
They were coming for him.
Bet the call had already gone out: Rodney’s name, description, make and model
of the truck. Armed and dangerous? He was neither, but that’s what they’d tell
all those cops out there, itchy with adrenaline.
Supposed to go different.
Supposed to be a simple negotiation.
Charles’ fault. Charles
had pulled the trigger. Charles had ended the man’s life. All Rodney did was…
So, yeah, no forgiveness.
God himself was like, “Dude, sick.”