Dry Bones in the Valley

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This is the first book in Tom Bouman's series with hero cop, Henry Farrell. Put on my to-read list thanks to Tom Nolan naming the third book in the series (The Bramble and the Rose) on his Best Mysteries of 2020 list. So…

Henry is a sad cop, operating in his old home town in rural Pennsylvania, outside Scranton. It's a changing world, drug use and poverty are rife, and the whole area is set atop the Marcellus Shale, and the frackers are doing their thing, causing environmental destruction and weird diseases in the populace. (Including Henry's wife. He's a widower now.) There's a lot of conflict potential.

Things kick off when a long-dead corpse is found on the land of an old eccentric. It's anyone's guess as to the dead guy's identity. Henry is left to inquire with the colorful neighbors, who all seem to have secrets, dysfunctions, and hidden bad behavior of their own. Worse, Henry's deputy goes missing, and Henry has to look for him as well. (The search result just provides another crime to solve.)

It's all dark and moody. And there are a lot of characters, most of them suspects. At my age, it was hard to keep track of 'em all. Not really my cup of tea, but Tom Bouman is a fine writer with a gift for describing the… well, the dark and moody.