• When These Mountains Burn

  • By: David Joy
  • Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews
  • Length: 7 hrs and 22 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (350 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2020 Dashiell Hammett Award for Literary Excellence in Crime Writing

Acclaimed author and "remarkably gifted storyteller" (The Charlotte Observer) David Joy returns with a fierce and tender tale of a father, an addict, a lawman, and the explosive events that come to unite them.

When his addict son gets in deep with his dealer, it takes everything Raymond Mathis has to bail him out of trouble one last time. Frustrated by the slow pace and limitations of the law, Raymond decides to take matters into his own hands.

After a workplace accident left him out of a job and in pain, Denny Rattler has spent years chasing his next high. He supports his habit through careful theft, following strict rules that keep him under the radar and out of jail. But when faced with opportunities too easy to resist, Denny makes two choices that change everything.

For months, the DEA has been chasing the drug supply in the mountains to no avail, when a lead - just one word - sets one agent on a path to crack the case wide open...but he'll need help from the most unexpected quarter.  

As chance brings together these men from different sides of a relentless epidemic, each may come to find that his opportunity for redemption lies with the others.

©2020 David Joy (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Slow-burning.... With memorable characters, deft plotting, and an attention to detail, Joy has written a powerful work of crime fiction." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"Joy portrays his characters with unflinching realism. Creative turns of phrase and creative colloquialisms move the story forward and keep the otherwise disheartening subject matter full of thrilling surprises. As Southern noir-tinged fiction gains a well-deserved audience, Joy is one voice that never disappoints." (Booklist)

"[An] engrossing drama of violence and vengeance.... Joy's razor-sharp prose details disturbing, graphic images of brutality that begin when Raymond resolves to protect his son.... Joy handles everything with ease, proving himself to be one hell of a writer." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about When These Mountains Burn

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His Best Yet

When These Mountains Burn by David Joy
Narration by Andrew MacLeod

If you are a fan of Southern Gothic ala Mississippi, as we are, you must be familiar with David Joy’s North Carolina/Appalachian Gothic. His most recent book, When These Mountains Burn is his best work yet. Having read and/or listened to all of them so far, that is no small compliment. We’ve been a fan from the get go with his debut novel, Where All Light Tends to Go in 2015. Mind you, he is not an easy read; the stories he weaves are dark, painful, and haunting with woefully wounded, tragic, and flawed characters.

This book is not written; it is crafted via emotion, intuitive talent, and the love of his home state, warts and all. As a visceral reviewer, we do not claim to be an erudite literary (or as our creative writing teacher once called it ‘seri-ass literature’) critic. We do not dissect plots, stories, characters, or word usage. We do not read or listen to a book; we feel a book. And ‘boy howdy’ we felt this one from the first sentence.

We were pulled into the whirlpools of addiction, the the agonizingly beautiful love of a parent for an addicted man-child, the immoral world of those whose greed is their altar, the profoundly discouraging fight for justice, and the disappearing cultures of the Cherokee Nation and mountain culture of Appalachia.

Just as the literary voice of Mr. Joy is showcased in this book, so is the epic narration and talent of MacLeod Andrews. So, get this book and read it; then listen to it for an even more acute resonance.

10 people found this helpful

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A crime novel that dares to go deeper

Loved it from the first chapter to the last. Wonderful performance only made it better! A fantastic story and the characters are so deep. I got it here on Audible but this is one I'm absolutely going to get the hardcover of just so I can re-read it.

8 people found this helpful

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Two kinds of wonderful - David Joy and McLeod Andrews

Each deserves praise for their contribution to this title. David Joy hit so many notes of the places and people of western NC. Those things that pull us together and pull us apart. His writing made me reminisce a time and place I never even experienced. MacLeod Andrews portrayed each character brilliantly. His ability to bring each character to life in dialects with subtle differences is amazing. Every book I have heard him narrate is a worthy journey.

7 people found this helpful

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Excellent story, full of heartbreak and healing.

Moving story, haunting and powerful in the best of ways. A must read! Buy this!

3 people found this helpful

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Podcast disappointment

Heard an interview on this book by the author on Art of Manliness. Unfortunately, I understood the novel to be more on the outdoors and wilderness of WV rather than the underground drug culture that is an epidemic of the mountain people there. If you want to hear a story about drugs and crime in WV, this book sounds well written. However, if you came here for mountains and the outdoors, you should move on.

2 people found this helpful

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Miserable story

This is a miserable book about miserable people. I gave up about one third of the way into the book when I finally realized that there is no plot to this story. In the first several hours the story consists almost entirely of descriptions of heroin addicts shooting up or stealing so they can buy more dope. There was no mystery nor even a central character to follow. I’m returning it.

2 people found this helpful

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MacLeod Andrews is my absolute favorite.

When These Mountains Burn is a great look into current mountain life through the eyes of a man who remembers how it used to be. The detail given in each aspect of this book is thorough without dragging and it’s a true talent to walk that line. The performance given by MacLeod Andrews is a straight A+!!! I’ve listened to him read Bearskin and now this and he is the best!

2 people found this helpful

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A Great Listen

David Joy is a contemporary novelist of the highest order. He gives a clear, raw and painful glimpse into his characters that instantly draws you in and holds you throughout. Seeing a slice of America's south through this lens can be hard, but you can't stop looking. I discovered the author last year and went through his books quickly and savored every second of this title. Spread the word: David Joy rocks!

The vocal performance is spot on and my only complaint with When These Mountains Burn is that I wish it would have been much longer.

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although this book was good...

Although this was a good book, it would not be what I would call a mystery/suspense.

1 person found this helpful

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Dark, Powerfully Evocative, Beautifully Written & Narrated

I purchased this audiobook based on an interesting summary and it’s many five star reviews. Not only did it not disappoint, it just about blew me away. Yes, the subject matter is dark (opioid addiction), and often times sad and bleak, (so listen at your own risk or level of tolerance), yet there remained many points of light and hopefulness. This story was elevated by beautiful, evocative and powerful writing, and the narration was stellar! Five blazing stars.

1 person found this helpful