Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill

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A ferocious debut that puts Frank Bill's southern Indiana on the literary map next to Cormac McCarthy's eastern Tennessee and Daniel Woodrell's Missouri Ozarks

Crimes in Southern Indiana is the most blistering, vivid, flat-out fearless debut to plow into American literature in recent years. Frank Bill delivers what is both a wake-up call and a gut punch. Welcome to heartland America circa right about now, when the union jobs and family farms that kept the white on the picket fences have given way to meth labs, backwoods gunrunners, and bare-knuckle brawling.

Bill's people are pressed to the brink--and beyond. There is Scoot McCutchen, whose beloved wife falls terminally ill, leaving him with nothing to live for--which doesn't quite explain why he brutally murders her and her doctor and flees, or why, after years of running, he decides to turn himself in. In the title story, a man who has devolved from breeding hounds for hunting to training them for dog-fighting crosses paths with a Salvadoran gangbanger tasked with taking over the rural drug trade, but who mostly wants to grow old in peace. As Crimes in Sourthern Indiana unfolds, we witness the unspeakable, yet are compelled to find sympathy for the depraved.

Bill's southern Indiana is haunted with the deep, authentic sense of place that recalls the best of Southern fiction, but the interconnected stories bristle with the urban energy of a Chuck Palahniuk or a latter-day Nelson Algren and rush with the slam-bang plotting of pulp-noir crime writing à la Jim Thompson. Bill's prose is gritty yet literary, shocking, and impossible to put down. A dark evocation of the survivalist spirit of the working class, this is a brilliant debut by an important new voice.


About Frank Bill

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Frank Bill is the author of the story collection Crimes in Southern Indiana, one of GQ's favorite books of 2011 and a Daily Beast best debut of 2011. He lives and writes in southern Indiana. Donnybrook is his first novel.
Published August 30, 2011 by FSG Originals. 283 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Crimes in Southern Indiana

Kirkus Reviews

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Most of the characters are simply bone-marrow bad, and their stories leave an acrid taste about the human condition.

Aug 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Crimes in Southern Indiana: S...

Publishers Weekly

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Readers who enjoy coal-black rural noir are in for a sadistic treat: flowing like awful mud and written in pulpy style, these stories paint a grisly portrait of the author's homeland.

May 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Crimes in Southern Indiana: S...

Unfolding as the title character’s reflection on a life that has taken him from bliss to tragedy to the door of a rural police station in search of redemption, “The Penance of Scoot McCutchen” demonstrates how an author at the top of his game can make a fourteen page short story seem epic.

Sep 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Crimes in Southern Indiana: S...

Time Out Chicago

Duke was choking down his fifth cup of kettle coffee, nursing a hangover, when his wife, Margaret, came through the kitchen door, screaming as if her skin had been pressed through a cheese grater.” All of these images are iconic in their own way: The kettle coffee, the husband with the hangover, ...

Sep 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Crimes in Southern Indiana: S...

Newcity Lit

And Bill’s woebegone clans have more in common with Daniel Woodrell’s and William Gay’s Southern highlanders and the late Larry Brown’s redneck Mississippians than they do with the people “north of 40.” Like Woodrell’s Ozarkers, Bill’s Hoosiers hunt, fish and even make music on the land occupie...

Sep 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Crimes in Southern Indiana: S...

The Nervous Breakdown

This need to condemn while also striving to understand is evident in the story “The Old Mechanic.” We are told of his back story, his abuse of a wife, violent and unflinching, and yet later, we see this man as a victim of the wars he fought, forever traumatized, unable to deal with his fears and ...

Sep 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Crimes in Southern Indiana: S...

The Paris Review

There is a greater danger for those wearing a toupee or wig, as sunglasses could push it back to expose a large shiny forehead, reminiscent of that shudderingly shocking Telly Savalas.” —S.

Oct 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Crimes in Southern Indiana: S...

Tottenville Review

If the more sensational tales lack nuance, the emotions are raw, immediate, and primal, which is refreshing for readers who feel the modern American short story has leaned a little too far towards understatement.

Jan 21 2013 | Read Full Review of Crimes in Southern Indiana: S...


(Just humor me.) When you open Frank Bill’s collection of short stories Crimes in Southern Indiana, you’ve landed on the witch and opened the door to a world you didn’t know existed.

Feb 12 2012 | Read Full Review of Crimes in Southern Indiana: S...

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