River, Sing Out

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What to expect

Attempting to escape his abusive father and generations of cyclical poverty, young Jonah Hargrove joins the mysterious River—a teenage girl carrying thousands of dollars in stolen meth—and embarks on a southern gothic odyssey through the East Texas river bottoms.

They are pursued by local drug kingpin John Curtis and his murderous enforcer, Dakota Cade, with whom River was romantically involved. But Cade and Curtis have their own enemies, as their relationship with the cartel controlling their meth supply begins to sour.

Keeping tabs on everyone is the Thin Man, a silent assassin who values consequence over mercy.

Each person is keeping secrets from the others—deadly secrets that will be exposed in savage fashion as their final paths collide and all are forced to come to terms with their choices, their circumstances, and their own definition of God.

With a colorful cast of supporting characters and an unflinching violence juxtaposed against lyrical prose, River, Sing Out dives deep into a sinister and sanguinary world, where oppressive poverty is pitted against the need to believe in something greater than the self.

Critics Review

  • “With echoes of Jim Harrison, Cormac McCarthy (and perhaps a smidge of Flannery O’Connor), River, Sing Out is a beautiful, brutal meditation on survival and love in the face of nearly unspeakable violence and depravity in an East Texas community ravaged by the meth trade. Taut, lyrical, and precise, the prose soars in this important new novel by James Wade.”

    Elizabeth Wetmore, New York Times bestselling author
  • “Wade, whose striking debut, All Things Left Wild (2020), traveled back a century in Texas history, uses an unlikely friendship to explore an equally wild present-day landscape…A haunting fable of an impossible relationship fueled by elemental need and despair.”

    Kirkus Reviews
  • “With echoes of Jim Harrison, Cormac McCarthy (and perhaps a smidge of Flannery O’Connor), River, Sing Out is a beautiful, brutal meditation on survival and love in the face of nearly unspeakable violence and depravity in an East Texas community ravaged by the meth trade. Taut, lyrical, and precise, the prose soars in this important new novel by James Wade.”

    Elizabeth Wetmore, New York Times bestselling author
  • “James Wade got our attention with his debut, All Things Left Wild, that existed in a world between western, crime fiction, and the end of days. He proves his talent wasn’t a first-time fluke with his follow-up River, Sing Out. By setting up a simple crime fiction premise, he is able to delve deep into emotion and theme like a master bluesman with three chords.”

    BookPeople
  • “What lifts River Sing Out far beyond the ordinary is its exquisite, elegant writing which concisely confronts the ugly truth of rural poverty in American society. Souls are stripped bare with mesmerising intensity. The incessant rain, the oppressive heat and the river itself saturate the story. Author James Wade eloquently captures the brutal, beautiful reality of coming of age; first love, deceit, betrayal and rejection, and he weaves all these themes into a nail-biting plot that would do Hollywood proud. It can be hard-going at times as Wade explores just how bleak and brutal this world can be. Yet ultimately this is a celebration of the strength of the human spirit. It is relentless at times and it should be shocking, but River Sing Out also illustrates the strength of quiet conviction with poetic grace and understated compassion. If you admire the writing craft of James Lee Burke, Cormac McCarthy or Tim Gautreaux—their ability to immerse the reader in a vivid landscape so powerful you can smell it—then Wade is a new author to watch.”

    Murder, Mayhem & More
  • “This story is not just a story to be read. It is a story to be experienced…Although this is the first book by James Wade that I’ve read, he has immediately become one of my favorite and most respected authors. If you believe in the magic of the written word and what can become of it, you need to read this story. You need to read this author. You will enjoy both very much!”

    The Clueless Gent

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