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Jake Hinkson combines crime and religion for some of the most compelling fiction. His characters' actions often clash with their beliefs and with the conflict often leading to worse sins. With his latest, Find Him, he takes his lead in a different direction.

Lilly, the fifteen year old daughter of an Arkansas Pentecostal preacher, is about the six months pregnant. The father and fiance, Pete, has not been seen for a week. Lilly is determined to confront him, but the local police chief and Pete's mother prove little help.

She discovers he left for Little Rock, but needs a ride. She turns to Alan Woodson, her otcast uncle. Not only is Alan gay, but he's the product of a illicit relationship with a member of the family who was also a preacher. Their search leads to a human trafficking ring connected to the hotel Peter and Alan work at and they draw the attention of some rough folks.

Hinkson weaves a fair amount of humor with the tougher story elements, much supplied by Alan. He uses sardonic responses to the ignorance and prejudice he constantly confronts. It perfectly comes out when facing off with some threatening good ol' boys who are surprised he's gay because of his size. Alan's responses are tinged with a world weariness that comes from fighting the good and often losing fight too often. Lilly brings him a mission and reason to stand up again.

Lilly definitely drives the the story though. Her search is partly to combat the shame and helplessness her father's church has placed on her and her family. Her journey allows her to encounter a larger world that doesn't completely align with what she's been taught. She doesn't abandon her beliefs as much expand and humanize them.

Find Him works as a great rural hard boiled with it's rundown motels, low rent criminals, hard religion and sudden, brutal violence. Much like S.A. Cosby's Razorblade Tears, it takes two different damaged people and forces them to ask questions not only about the mystery but of their lives. They faith only works when applied to to your own strength and those close to them. Bless them both.


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