Don’t Know Tough
‘A searing and stunningly poignant study in what makes us and what breaks us’ S. A. Cosby, New York Times bestselling author of Razorblade Tears and Blacktop Wasteland
‘A gripping novel about rage and trauma, redemption and damnation, football and family’ Steph Cha
Friday Night Lights with a Southern Gothic twist – a powerful debut noir for fans of S. A. Cosby and Megan Abbott.
In Denton, Arkansas, the fate of the high school football team rests on the shoulders of Billy Lowe, a volatile but talented running back. Billy comes from an extremely troubled home: a trailer park where he is terrorized by his unstable mother’s abusive boyfriend. Billy takes out his anger on the field, but when his savagery crosses a line, he faces suspension.
Without Billy Lowe, the Denton Pirates can kiss their playoff bid goodbye. But the head coach, Trent Powers, who just moved from California with his wife and two children for this job, has more than just his paycheck riding on Billy’s bad behavior. As a born-again Christian, Trent feels a divine calling to save Billy-save him from his circumstances, and save his soul.
Then Billy’s abuser is found murdered in the Lowe family trailer, and all evidence points toward Billy. Now nothing can stop an explosive chain of violence that could tear the whole town apart on the eve of the playoffs.
WINNER OF THE PETER LOVESEY FIRST CRIME NOVEL CONTEST
A USA Today Best Book of the Year (So Far)
An Amazon Editor’s Pick
CrimeReads Most Anticipated Books of 2022
New York Post Top Reads for the Week
‘Southern noir at its finest, a cauldron of terrible choices and even more terrible outcomes’ The New York Times Book Review
Southern noir at its finest, a cauldron of terrible choices and even more terrible outcomes . . . There is a raw ferocity to Cranor's prose, perfectly in keeping with the novel's examination of curdling masculinity * New York Times Book Review * Readers may think they know what happened, but Cranor has some twists in store - in a plot that calls to mind Megan Abbott * Los Angeles Times * A major work from a bright, young talent * USA Today * Imagine a noir Friday Night Lights written by a cross between Megan Abbott and Harry Crews, and you'll get close to what Eli Cranor's pulled off in Don't Know Tough. It's propulsive, twisty, and unputdownable -- William Boyle A searing and stunningly poignant study in what makes us and what breaks us and ultimately what brings us to a place of peace. Eli Cranor is that rare writer who can make you gasp, cry and cheer often in the same paragraph -- S. A. Cosby A powerful and moving debut. Eli Cranor's writing is honest and unflinching. But what ultimately elevates this novel is its surprising tenderness. I read it in one sitting, and it'll stay with me -- James Kestrel A gripping novel about rage and trauma, redemption and damnation, football and family and brutality in close quarters. Cranor's characters bristle with desperation and frustrated masculinity, a volatile cauldron of emotion that brings tension to every page -- Steph Cha This is the sports crime novel I've been desperate to read, and I'm now unable to shake from my mind. Eli Cranor's debut crackles with voice and power. Don't miss this one -- Alex Segura
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