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(Judah Cannon #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  181 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Judah Cannon is the middle son of the notorious Cannon clan led by Sherwood, its unflinching and uncompromising patriarch. When Judah returns to his rural hometown of Silas, Florida after a stint in prison, he is determined to move forward and live it clean with his childhood best friend and newly discovered love, Ramey Barrow. Everything soon spirals out of control, thoug ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by Polis Books (first published January 10th 2017)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  181 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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James Thane
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
All things considered, Judah Cannon probably should have just stayed in prison. Instead, once released, he discovers that no one has come to pick him up, which should be the first clue as to where he ranks with his bottom-feeding family and his on-again, off-again wife. That notwithstanding, he makes his way home to the small rural town of Silas in northern Florida. His preference would be to make an honest life for himself and for the woman he has loved all his life, his childhood friend, Ramey ...more
When I read the plot for this upcoming novel by Steph Post, I was a little disappointed as it seemed very similar to her last novel, A Tree Born Crooked , and I was worried that it would simply be a rehash of the same ideas. But although there are similarities, where we follow a man returning to his small-town Florida home after time away, kindling a romantic flame and reluctantly reuniting with family knowing that it will only bring trouble, ultimately this book felt like a totally different ...more
Jeff Zentner
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Steph Post's writing is a sawed-off shotgun full of double-ought buckshot, a Saturday night bar fight and a Sunday morning hallelujah. It's blood on pine needles and taking a rise in the road too fast on a Harley. She writes like the marriage of William Gay and Flannery O'Connor at a midnight crossroads. ...more
Craig Pittman
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
You won't find a more cinematic opening and closing scene in a novel this year than the ones in this gritty Florida rural noir novel by Tampa author Steph Post. She kicks it off with Judah Cannon, a member of the mostly criminal family of Cannons in the small Florida town of Silas, getting out of prison after three years and discovering no one is waiting to meet him. He ends up walking 20 miles to his hometown -- and straight into a bar.

What I liked even better than that opening scene was what h
Brian Panowich
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
First of all, I'm not going to rehash the plot of this novel. Buy it and read it yourself, but I will tell you this:
Steph Post doesn't just write stories, she writes fables. With character names like Judah, and Ramses, you'd think a reader would pick up on that from the beginning, but you don't. Instead from the first few pages, you find yourself being drawn into a story that could be taking place right next door, involving real people, that everyone knows. I could be a chanter in a Post novel,
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
Florida grit lit. When you leave prison after serving a term because you wouldn't turn on your Crime Family, of course you'll be sucked back into doing another job with your Crime Dad and Crime Brother. Along with the expected big score, this book adds to that narrative the wrinkles of a hapless biker gang with an ineffectual leader, and a terrifying church lady with colorless eyes who tortures her nephew and her congregation in the name of the lord. I feel like I've read this book before, but i ...more
Sharon Mensing
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Post’s (A Tree Born Crooked) rural Florida is a place where one would not want to break down when passing through. Silas is a violent town with little apparent law enforcement and plenty of smoky, grimy bars patronized by motorcycle gang members and the criminal clan that controls the community. Money and meth are at stake here, where even the local preacher manages her followers through malevolent manipulation. Despite his determination to go straight, Judah, a son in the brutal Cannon family, ...more
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is my first intro to Steph Post and her writing and I have to say I’m blown away. I heard great things about her debut novel A TREE BORN CROOKED so had high hopes for LIGHTWOOD. It’s a refreshing surprise when a book goes above and beyond my expectations which was exactly the case here. The story takes place in Silas, FL, a small rural town where you can feel the heat practically scorching through the pages. The story alternates POVs but centers mostly around Judah Cannon who just got out o ...more
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have to confess right here that I did not finish this book. I could not finish it, but you need to know why. The writing was so good, I felt like I was there, which can be a good thing, but I didn't want to be in this particular place. The people made me uncomfortable. They reminded me of folks I knew a long time ago. It wasn't a good place to be then or now, even in my head through this book.

Kudos to this author for pulling me in and making it so real. So sorry it was too real that I had to l
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a good thrill ride through rural Florida. It was done right. I have a nagging feeling that I have read or seen this plot on TV before and it bugged me all the way through reading the book. The ending was well done and I will read the next in the Judah Cannon series just to see how it goes with Judah and Ramey.
David Nemeth
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
All my reviews can be found at

If you think of Florida as the Holy Trinity of Tourism: Orlando, Miami and Key West, then Steph Post's Lightwood (Polis Books), a backwoods crime fiction novel set in northern Florida, will be a bit of a surprise.

Lightwood begins with Judah Cannon released from prison and no one is there to pick him up, not his on-again-off-again wife or his cohorts in crime — his father and brother. As Judah begins the long walk to his hometown, it is time for that
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
You will be propelled from the start.

More -
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
2017 is barely a month old and LIGHTWOOD by Steph Post has already set the bar mighty high for any other books scheduled to be released this year. LIGHTWOOD explores family dynamics, both in the families we’re born in to and the ones we choose.

How far will you go to protect your family?

Steph Post does an excellent job balancing the concurrent story lines. While Judah Cannon is the driving force of LIGHTWOOD, Post gives equal time to both Sister Tulah and the Scorpions. The tension between the th
Short Summary: When Judah Cannon is released from prison and returns to his hometown of Silas, Florida, he finds himself swiftly wrapped up in the troublesome workings of his family once again except this time may not result in prison, but death.

Thoughts: Steph Post has written a riveting noir-style story about revenge and betrayal that switches up the typical Appalachian setting of most Southern Gothic novels and gives us a peek at the dynamic and dangerous world of Florida scrub country.

Glen Hamilton
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Cannon clan effectively runs the town of Silas, Florida, though it would be going too far to call them welcome in most establishments. They’ve all done time; prison is considered a rite of passage. They’ve extorted, intimidated, stolen, trafficked, and pretty much squeezed the citizens of Silas for what little they have. Which isn’t much. So when the huge and ruthless Sherwood hears of a biker gang coming through town with a hundred and fifty grand in drug money, he enlists every Cannon avai ...more
Eric Beetner
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a real standout. Exciting action, great emotions and some of the most fascinating characters in recent crime fiction. Sister Tulah is an instant classic. The story moves but never feels rushed, the plots turns in unexpected ways. A total knockout from start to finish and destined to make a lot of best of lists this year.
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fast paced southern literary crime fiction at its finest. It is very easy to become completely immersed within the world created by the author. Characters are well developed, believable, and sometimes terrifying, pacing is great, and entire work has a very cinematic feel. It's not difficult to see this novel becoming a new mini-series. ...more
Nicole Ledford
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Kept me hooked throughout the entire ride! Well done!
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A powerful, unflinching family tale that serves up a memorable dose of killer Florida crime fiction. Post is in fine form with this one, and I'm eager to read whatever she does next. ...more
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Steph Post’s Lightwood is the story of Judah Cannon, a man who hails from a small-time crime family in the backwoods of Florida. Judah has just gotten out of prison and is determined not to do his authoritarian father’s bidding any longer. But when Judah succumbs to those old instincts and his father’s heavy-handed sway, the family pulls a robbery that has long-reaching and unintended consequences. This is a dark tale that pulls no punches, a sledgehammer of a noir populated by real, flawed, and ...more
Leah Rhyne
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Man. Florida. Who'da thought?

Well, I mean, once the man ate the other man's face down in Florida, we all knew it was a weird place, right? A place where reality often meets....something else. Something bizarre. Something not entirely explainable.

That's what happens in Steph Post's Lightwood. Reality meets...something else in a couple of small, backwater Florida towns, populated with biker dudes and small-time-crime-lords and, well, a church that isn't...quite...normal.

This is crime fiction at it
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noir
This was so much fun, and dark and sad too. Characters you can sink your teeth into, and a plot that kept me guessing and blew up in all the right ways. Sister Tulah is one of a kind (and so well-written–she never becomes a caricature), and Ramey and Judah are two of my favorite heroes in a long while. Also enjoyed Ramey's weird coffee mug collection, it's very similar to mine. ...more
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Steph Post writes in the great Florida tradition of heat and chaos. She's a natural descendant of MacDonald and a hard boiled Hiaasen. Lightwood will leave you sweating on tenterhooks with every turn of the page. I highly recommend. ...more
Alex Carbo
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is pure Southern Grit-Lit that you light up with a dynamite stick and throw in the belly of a meth-fueled trailer only to watch the flames and chemical fumes going at you faster than a shotgun bullet. Y

Not so long ago, I promised myself I would stop giving 5-star ratings so easily, just because I liked a character or a passage in the novel and this might seem like my words aren't worth a damn, but good lord this book was a fun ride !

And it is definitely worth a 5-star rating in its ge
Kevin Catalano
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the best possible way, Steph Post’s Lightwood is reminiscent of Wiley Cash’s A Land More Kind than Home and Brian Panowich’s Bull Mountain: there is family drama, stolen cash, a meth-cooking biker gang, a gun-hoarding prepper, and a terrifying preacher who doles out punishment through “baptism by fire.” However, Post’s novel is unmistakably feminist, in the sense that it’s strongest and most memorable characters are women. The main antagonist is not a dude, but a menacing, larger-than-life wo ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
A great premise but the execution is wanting. Our protagonist's adversaries are either cartoonish villains (Sister Tulah) or comically inept (the sad sack Scorpion motorcycle gang) which undermine the suspense and, ultimately, result in a most unsatisfying (narratively unearned) conclusion. ...more
Al Kratz
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Review forthcoming at Alternating Current!
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you like your like your Florida souvenir shops a little trashy, your bars a little dive-y, and prefer the ramshackle charms of U.S. 441 over the speedy commute of I-75, then there should be a place in your heart for the seedy intrigue of Steph Post’s second novel.

Post’s noir-crime misadventure follows ex-con Judah Cannon to one of those Gainesville-to-Jacksonville towns, just after his release from the clink in Starke, Fla. He hitches a ride to his hometown; hooks up with his first true love
Jim Thomsen
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-noir
Reading Steph Post's debut novel, A TREE BORN CROOKED, I knew I was in the confident hands of a major talent who opened a whole new window into Florida Noir—depicting the rough-hewn communities of north-central Florida with the complicated, painful love of a native who's shed its zip code but never fully its snake-like skin. Where other Florida writers play the state's non-coastal towns for cheap-shot laughs about toothless rednecks and drug-addled Walmart shoppers, Post digs deep into the compl ...more
Hansel Castro
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With a drag of a cigarette that tastes exactly like all his other cigarettes ever, Judah Cannon exits prison and enters the world of Steph Post’s “Lightwood.” Judah is drawn right back to his questionable family situation, as one third of the Biblically-named Cannon brothers: the others being being bullish Levi and innocent Benjamin. Patriarch Sherwood Cannon rules the land of Silas, the kind of Florida town “that would only be useful when the zombie apocalypse hit and the survivors needed an ab ...more
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Pulp Fiction: THE SUPERNATURAL IN CRIME FICTION 5 22 Dec 16, 2019 07:00PM  

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Steph Post was born in St. Augustine, Florida and attended Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina on the Patricia Cornwell Scholarship for creative writing. While at Davidson College, she won the Vereen Bell writing award for short fiction. She later attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington as part of the Graduate Liberal Studies program where she continued to write both creat ...more

Other books in the series

Judah Cannon (3 books)
  • Walk in the Fire (Judah Cannon, #2)
  • Holding Smoke

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