" I read Woodrell's books in the wrong order. Winter's Bone is so luminous and character-driven, that it's hard to switch into the broader, more violent (seriously!), and faster paced world of the popular hard-boiled murder mystery after that. And I'm a fan of hard-boiled crime fiction! Woodrell does a great job setting up the atmosphere of the bayou, and I do really enjoy the way he sets out former boxer and police detective Rene Shade as his investigating figure and sets him in a family where some are on the shady side of the law (hence the name) and others are devoted to shadiness but seem above board (like his brother, lawyer Francois Shade). I actually would have enjoyed spending more time with this family and less time with the criminal shenanigans that these novellas trace (and chase), which explains why the last book, about Rene Shade's long-absent father getting into trouble with a sadistic killer, appealed to me the most. Each is an enjoyable read, but none is as special as Winter's Bone was throughout, perhaps an unfair generic comparison, though I think some Chandler and Hammett mysteries are as luminous and thought-provoking as anything written in a realistic mode. Regardless, Woodrell nails atmosphere and dialogue, and this book is a fast read, though I kept picking it up and putting it down (hence it took me a long time to get through, which is never really a fair way of evaluating narratives based so much on suspense). "
— Cat, 1/5/2014