Finished December 21
Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash
This novel features Les, a North Carolina sheriff in his early fifties, who is days away from retirement, and park ranger Becky, a woman for whom nature is a comfort. Les deals with many issues in his job, not the least of which is crystal meth. His marriage ended badly, and he knows that his reaction to his wife's issues played a large part in that. He takes solace in painting the beauty that surrounds him. Becky is haunted by a childhood incident that silenced her for a time, and more recently, by a bad choice of partner. Becky found that calm comfort with a hefty dose of nature brought her back to herself, and she finds poetry a way to express her feelings about this.
These two voices tell the story of a few days in this Appalachian town, where the growing drug trade in crystal meth causes some to destroy families, and Les has found a way to cope while anticipating his upcoming retirement. When an elderly man that Becky has befriended becomes accused of poisoning the trout he holds dear, Becky defends him righteously, while Les looks for answers. Both characters have an incident in their youth that influences their current actions, and they find themselves growing closer.
This was a fascinating book, one that combined lyrical poetry with a mystery. One in which everyone is flawed in some way. It grew on me as I read it.