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Potential Vengeance

Mike Mallow
Mike Mallow Author Interview

In The Country Dark follows a journalist and a childhood friend as they become targets of a reclusive rural crime lord. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

My wife was working as a Human Resource Manager at a nursing home. She aways had tons of framed pictures of our family on the walls. It made me uneasy since this was a room where she regularly terminated people. This sometimes generates bad blood, and our pictures were all there to select for potential vengeance.

Cabel and Troy are intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?

I had two childhood friends who passed away in their 20s. Both had somewhat of a reckless streak, which inspired the main flaw behind Troy’s personality. Cabel became somewhat of a surrogate to have the conversations with his old friend that I no longer could. As their development progressed, I was able to really drill down on the nostalgia the fuels reunions later in life.

The novel explores the darker side of rural West Virginia communities. What were some themes you wanted to focus on in this book?

The main thing I wanted to focus on are the more realistic aspects of rural life. Lack of opportunities in employment, a community that turns their back to young struggling residents, and the fatalism engrained in family legacy. Those things together breed the resentment and desperation that gives birth to the drugs and crime that are rampant across Appalachia today.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

“Burning Without Knowing” – another Appalachian Crime Novel. This one is about copper thieves exposed in southern West Virginia. It’s still in the outline stages, but is promising enough to start composing this winter. Hopefully it will be ready for an early 2022 release.

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Darkness is everywhere. It lurks just below the surface, waiting to rear its ugliness, even in small serene West Virginia communities. The darkness of murder and drugs puts a disenchanted journalist and recently reunited childhood friend in the crosshairs of a reclusive rural crime lord. The unlikely pair, navigating a trail of past traumas, broken dreams, and small victories, try to find a way to shine a light on the dark underbelly of their community before the darkness becomes their own.

In The Country Dark: An Appalachian Crime Tale

In The Country Dark by Mike Mallow follows an investigation into the dark recesses of a small town under the grips of one dismal El Oscura, also known as the Recluse. Cabel Walsh is a journalist who loves his profession despite being part of a sinking ship of an industry. Troy Mason is a wild card with a bit of a temper issue, and he works as a nursing assistant in a residential home. Troy and Cabel used to be buddies in high school, and are soon reunited when circumstances force Cabel  back to the small town. There, he discovers a thread of traumas and losses all leading up to an insidious and implacable villain: El Oscura

It’s clear that the author has firsthand experience in the terrains in which this story takes place. It’s a pleasure to read- not only for the plot but also the shared experience of another life that could potentially be so vastly different from one’s own. The characters and dialogues are also perfectly natural yet distinct.

Troy and Cabel’s friendship was also particularly heartwarming, the way they managed to not overcome, but rather acknowledge and respect their different perspectives on life and bond over their upbringing in Chancy. Hence, the sucker punch that comes pretty soon into the book is even more ferocious.

It’s a clever and suspenseful build-up towards the climax, when the face-off between El Oscuro and Cabel calls into question Cabel’s integrity and his steadiness in a personal crisis. I’m prone to comparing most man-gone-rogue thrillers I read to the best in their kind: Lee Child, John Grisham, Frederick Forsyth et. al. (in my opinion of course) and I genuinely thought this could pose some serious competition. It has all the best elements: a breakneck pace, an unforgiving and sometimes cruel environment, some form of drug-based conspiracy, and a can’t-help-but-love-him disillusioned man at the center. This is not to make it sound cliche- it’s rare that all the elements work together in harmony to make a perfectly entertaining and delicious novel such as this one. I truly look forward to whatever Mike Mallow has to offer next.

Pages: 226 | ASIN: B08DRN84TH

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