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Above the Waterfall: A Novel by Ron Rash
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Above the Waterfall: A Novel (2015)

by Ron Rash

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It’s difficult to describe how thoughtful, subtle, intricate and compelling this story is. All the characters have their problems and past wounds that contribute to their actions. I won’t summarize, but nature clashes with the messy reality of greed, drug abuse and poor choices. Despite that, Rash writes of a chance for redemption for those that seek it. ( )
  Hagelstein | Jun 18, 2017 |
Les is a long-time sheriff in a small Appalachia town and he has a close albeit a bit problematical relationship with Becky a park ranger since both are damage people with sad memories and that makes them a bit restrained and not eager to jump into a new relationship. Les only has 3 more weeks to work when a Gerard an elderly man is accused of poison the trout stream out of revenge because the resort that owns the land don't want him trespassing on the land because he is scaring the guests. Becky is convinced that Gerard is innocent and Les isn't so sure either that Gerald is the one behind the deed. And, there are some people that would benefit from Gerald convicted and off his land...

I'm a big fan of Craig Johnson's Longmire series and when I saw this book about a sheriff in an Appalachia town, well I jump at the chance to read it. In several ways, it did remind me of the Longmire books. We have an elderly sheriff in small town and also the day shift dispatcher is called Ruby and we even have a character called Martha in the book. So now and then I got some Longmire vibes. What the book lacked was a Vic character. But I liked Becky, she is a park ranger with a sad past, she survived a school shooting as a kid and the memories of that are something she is carrying with her all the time. Les and Becky have a close bond and it shows in the book.

The story in the book, the case with Gerald is my biggest problem because I felt right away that he is probably innocent and if it is so then somebody else must be the culprit and there weren't many suspects to choose from. So even though I enjoyed the book I also felt that it would have been so much more interesting to read if the story had been more elaborated. A twist or two to the story would have been great. Now it was just an acceptable reading, not an engrossing one. And, that is too bad because I really liked both Les and Becky.

I received this copy from Ecco through Edelweiss in return for an honest review! Thank you! ( )
  MaraBlaise | Apr 14, 2017 |
This is an extraordinary novel, and defies cogent definition. At times it edges towards poetry, yet at other points it plums the depths of small town corruption and the squalor encountered in society’s hidden hinterlands.

As the book opens, Les, the sheriff of the unnamed Appalachian town, is due to take his early retirement in the next three weeks, and spends much of his time thinking about his new life to come. Meanwhile Becky, his close friend, is a forest ranger, dedicated to protecting the wild from human encroachment. Both of them have shadows across their past. Becky is also a poet, composing elegiac verse about the wonders of nature that she encounters every day. Les is waging war against the local crystal meth dealers, and each new raid is a further foray into the fringes of hell.

Against all this, Gerald Blackwelder, an aging local farmer, finds himself in an increasingly bitter feud with a local resort. Gerald, like Becky, loves all aspects of nature, and is particularly enthralled by the beauty of the trout to be found above a waterfall on the resort’s estate. The resort’s owner is concerned that Gerald’s grizzled countenance has alarmed some of his more urbane guests. Gerald has his own emotional and psychological baggage.

Rash’s language is amazing, allowing him to render poetic even the most mundane of actions. His characters are beautifully drawn, and all have their respective failings. Yet Rash does not allow the beauty of his prose to prevent the action fairly fizzing along. This was one of those novels that I was enchanted by, and while I was eager to discover how the plotlines would be resolved, I regretted having finished it as reading it had been simply so enjoyable. Scarcely a paragraph goes by without a beautiful image. ( )
1 vote Eyejaybee | Mar 6, 2017 |
"Though sunlight tinges the mountains, black leatherwinged bodies swing low. First fireflies blink languidly. Beyond this meadow, cicadas rev and slow like sewing machines. All else ready for night except night itself. I watch last light lift off level land. Ground shadows seep and thicken. Circling trees form banks. The meadow itself becomes a pond filling, on its surface dozens of black-eyed susans." And so goes the first paragraph of Ron Rash's upcoming book, Above the Waterfall. Reading this passage for me was like taking a nice, deep breath of fresh air. Quiet words all strung together to create something simply beautiful.
The synopsis for this book on GR references the movie Serena based on the book of the same name by Rash. What a shame. That movie was an abomination and that book was breathtakingly tremendous. But I digress. Above the Waterfall is quiet throughout - for me it is the things that Rash does not say that are just as important as the things he does. He is a masterful writer in my opinion and this outing is excellent. I was not wowed like I was with Serena so I couldn't go with the 5th star, but this is still a book worthy of the author's copious talent and the reader's investment of time. Definitely recommend.

ARC from publisher ( )
1 vote Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
This story is told in the alternating voices of Les, a longtime sheriff who is about to retire, and Becky, a park ranger. In Les's last few days on the job, he is faced with a meth bust and the poisoning of a local river, and through flashbacks, we learn much about Les and Becky's pasts that shed light on their reactions to current events. The writing is so beautiful that I almost wished I had read this one instead of listening, but the two narrators were excellent. ( )
  porch_reader | Aug 3, 2016 |
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