I've admired Appalachian writer Ron Rash's poetry and short stories in recent years. His 2016 murder mystery "The Risen" is the first of his novels I've read.
The book makes me hope that it doesn't represent his best work as a novelist. With cartoonish characters, off-key dialogue and an incongruous plot, "The Risen" wheezes toward an unsurprising conclusion.
Rash gave the book enough narrative energy and vibrant sense of place - the mountainous area near Asheville, N.C., to keep me reading until the end. The patches of vivid language didn't assuage my dismay at having spent time with these characters. Other Rash novels that have received strong praise likely better represent his talent.