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The Line That Held Us

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  5,391 ratings  ·  974 reviews
From critically acclaimed author David Joy comes a remarkable novel about the cover-up of an accidental death, and the dark consequences that reverberate through the lives of four people who will never be the same again.

When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he’s chased for years, he never expected he’d accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he’s k
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 14th 2018 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
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Matt Fitz Graphically violence. Old-testament revenge with a twist of Southern Gothic from someone with clear violent predispositions. Unfortunately, giving you…moreGraphically violence. Old-testament revenge with a twist of Southern Gothic from someone with clear violent predispositions. Unfortunately, giving you examples would divulge too many spoilers, but visually, it is very graphic what happens. The realism of that graphicness may be intolerable to some. Although it is violent, I didn't necessarily find it gratuitous. If it concerns you for someone, then yes...too graphic.(less)

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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  5,391 ratings  ·  974 reviews

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Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Eagerly anticipated, since first whisper of its impending release—no pressure or anything Mr. Joy—THE LINE THAT HELD US turned out to be one of those elusive novels, capable of stealing the words from my mouth. Fiddling with my feelings. Consuming my cortex. Drying up the drivel that flows easily from brain to restless fingers following that final page. It’s taken darn near two months and one read through, followed by a second, only a few weeks later, to get to here—a place where I feel like I c ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

"In that moment, he knew that he was standing in the midst of something that would never be forgotten, something he would carry from this place and bear the rest of his life. There was no turning back. That single certainty consumed him."

Darl Moody makes a series of bad decisions. He decides to hunt out of season on another man's land. He is hunting for many reasons: he loves hunting, he helps put food on his sister's table, and he desperately wants to get that buck which has eluded him
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
4.5 stars

“Every choice held consequence.”

The Line that Held Us is a vicious, violent, dark and dirty novel about the consequences stemming from an accidental shooting deep in the Appalachian mountains.

While out hunting one evening, Darl Moody makes a kill that has jarring consequences. He thought he shot a wild boar but instead shot a man. Darl decides not to report the incident and calls on his best friend, Calvin Hooper, to help him bury the body. The aftermath of this decision results in
Larry H
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I'm between 4 and 4.5 stars.

After reading David Joy's newest novel, I've come to the conclusion that writers like him and Michael Farris Smith deserve their own sub-genre of fiction, one that I'll call "bleak-tion."

This sub-genre would contain beautifully written books in which a feeling of despair or doom is quite pervasive, and you know that something monumentally, well, bleak is going to happen. (See Joy's The Weight of This World or Smith's Desperation Road or The Fighter .) I don
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A thought provoking gem of a read!
This book has been cleverly hiding on my shelf for months. I’d even noticed many of my friends had given fabulous reviews for it. And still, there it sat. What was I waiting for?
First page to the last, it was off and running at full-speed.
You’ll experience the full spectrum of emotions on your journey through this read. It’s dark, it’s gritty and it’s beautifully written.

What starts as a tragic accident soon becomes a desperate struggle to protect those you lov
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of both the dark and beautiful prose
Recommended to Paula by: NetGalley
David Joy is now one of my favorite authors. I first read his Where all the Light Tends to Go which I enjoyed tremendously. The Line That Held Us has exceeded my expectations. David Joy is one of the finest writers out there!

Set in Appalachia we meet Darl Moody hunting out of season on another’s property. He makes the biggest mistake of his life when accidentally shooting Sissy, the younger brother of the meanest and most terrifying giant of a man, Dwayne Brewer. Darl Moody understands that he h
Angela M
Southern noir, grit lit - whatever you want to call it, it’s dark and gruesome, so gruesome, filled with grit, blood and rage. It’s the kind of book you just can’t put down even though it’s at times predictable and gross, because there’s a lot more here - about family, friendship, about how the misery of the past can shape who you are sometimes. It’s the kind of book I can read only occasionally. This one had some particularly gruesome depictions, so it took me longer to read than I thought it w ...more
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
From the first second we heard about this partner in crime and I went into full fangirling mode...…..Then it went up on Netgalley. We plotted ways to beg for it. We checked Netgalley a thousand times a day multiple times.

The book gods were good to us one day and someone messed up and let us get approved. Thank you!!!

See David Joy is an author that has caught us by our dark little dried up hearts. It's even to the point where we've started going to his site and seeing what he is read
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Grit Lit, Southern Noir, Appalachian Noir…whatever you call it, I call it terrific writing. There's not a wasted word and so much is said without extraneous details. It takes skill to develop characters so well in a relatively short book.

The novel opens with an accidental death and a cover-up. Soon things spin out of control and Dwayne, the victim’s brother, won’t rest until he has avenged his brother’s death. They grew up in an abusive home and Dwayne felt it was his duty to protect his brother
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grit-lit
Holy Moly. Or maybe I should be saying Hail Mary. This story is GRIT-TY. So much so I think anyone should be saying their prayers if they should ever encounter a Dwayne Brewer- Especially one who is looking for his missing brother. And 2 buddies know what happened to him. You don’t want to be either one of these guys as Dwayne is one big bad ass who will stop at nothing to get revenge.
Will appeal to those who like that southern hillbilly noir lit with little southern charm.
4⭐️ for a page turner
Diane S ☔
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Southern noir, Southern grit, I guess there are several different classifications for this type of book. An accidental shooting, posching outside of the official deer season, leads to untold violence. Sonny is the man accidentally shot to death, mistaken for a deer, leading to a cover up, that doesn't stay covered up. Revenge, one of the oldest motives in the Appalachians.

Okay, I'm going to be honest. I am wimpy and this was so violent in places it was outside my comfort zone. I did admire the

”I got friends who know how to have a good time
They roll their own and drink carolina shine
I’ve seen the devil in a dark coal mine
I’ve been higher than a Georgia pine

“Yeah there’s people all across the land
From New York out to ol’ San Fran
Just don’t give a damn all the time
In an outlaw state of mind”

--“Outlaw State of Mind,” Chris Stapleton, Songwriters: Ronnie Bowman / Chris Stapleton / Jerry Salley

4.5 Stars

Even though it was two months before the official hunting season be
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
4.5 stars!

I can’t shake the spine-tingling, stomach-churning, revenge-seeking, heart-pounding tension that filled every page of this intense, gritty, gun-slinging backroads tale.

This dark, unflinching and violent story follows Darl Moody and Calvin Hooper, two men who have been friends since childhood. Darl and Calvin find themselves caught in the deceit of covering up an accidental murder. They are faced with unexpected and unending repercussions and revenge.

This is not an easy read by any m
David Joy
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I wanted to write a book as if William Gay and Flannery O'Connor co-wrote McCarthy's Child Of God. I wanted to create a "bad guy" as memorable as Lester Ballard, The Misfit, or the Paper-Hanger. This was as close as I could get to that. ...more
Susanne  Strong
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
4.25 Stars* (rounded down)

Chilling, Dark, Dangerous, Insanely GRITTY and Gut-Wrenching.

“The Line That Held Us” by David Joy is a novel that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up almost immediately. That feeling never goes away. You will get the shivers and your skin will feel a grimy grittiness and yet you can’t tear yourself away.

Darl Moody is a man on on a mission: he wants to hunt. It’s out of season but he needs to put food on the table. He should have known better than to g
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

EDIT: Because it was this book's birthday yesterday and when a book finally gets released that will EASILY make your Best of 2018 list, you float it . . . .


Oh Mr. Joy, how I’ve missed you.

Perhaps the most ironic thing of all when it comes to this author is his name. If you were ever curious where the “Black As Mitchell’s Heart” moniker came from – David Joy’s stories are about as bleak as one brain could ever conju
David Joy tweeted earlier this summer: “Just because you ain’t been reading the right books don’t mean they ain’t been written.”

I am distinctly under-read when it comes to literary fiction from authors residing in or from Appalachia. I attribute this to picking poorly from a subset of the best-known authors from two decades ago, having so-so reading experiences and then not re-visiting Appalachian-based novels, as new authors came on the scene, remaining in contented ignorance of what I was miss
Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review.

I hit pay dirt with this one.  It's as dark, dirty, and gritty as it needs to be for the story it tells.  Caney Fork, Tennessee.  Here is a place where you carry your own, and where you got to pay what you owe, in a manner of speaking.  

Do not trespass.  Do not poach.  And for the sake of all that is holy, do not pull the trigger unless you know for certain sure what you are aiming at. Think about what you have to lose, and weigh it against
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished the audiobook and this was so suspenseful... I couldn’t stop from going back to it.
Darl goes poaching on a neighbors land while the neighbor is out of town...he loves hunting, he sees a shadow aways away, and watches for awhile, shoots.. and it ends up being a horrible accident. What he shot was a man who was out on the same land gathering ginseng, this sets off actions that make him a target of the crazed brother of the man he shot.
At times this was almost too much to take, but.
Brenda ~Traveling Sister is frustrated with GR
I read this one with six of my Traveling Sisters and this was one that left us all breathless after reading it. It made for a great discussion.

David Joy holds nothing back here and pulls no stops with this stunning and violent story that explores sacrifice and suffering. We were immediately drawn into a world where our characters live by a code and where family roots run deep and the lines that hold them are clear. The story is fiercely intense with descriptive violence that at times forced me
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Darl Moody accidentally shoots Carol (Sissy) Brewer while poaching deer on the property of Tillmon (Coon) Coward. Carol was poaching ginseng on Coon's property, when Darl mistook him for a wild hog. Calling the police would have been smart, but that didn't happen. Instead Darl panics and gets his best friend Calvin Hooper to help him, but their efforts wind up tearing apart not only their lives, but those of the people around them. Darl and Calvin aren't smart enough to hide from Carol's brother ...more

"A man's mind is his own kind of hell."

A tragic accident and a bad decision lead to violence, despair and revenge with deadly consequences in the Appalachia as an unbalanced Big BAD Giant of a man with a history seeks justice for the only one he has ever loved in the world.

In THE LINE THAT HELD US, there's really not a whole lot to the storyline nor are there many characters, but, oh my, the intensity of the writing does put the fear of what's to come in your bones and pulls t

Alright folks, get ready for a dark tale that'll drag you down into the land of human suffering. You won't be alone. All of David Joy's characters live there. Get ready to be conflicted beyond measure. Based on this story's theme, there are no villains and there are no victims...there is simply fate and survival and sacrifice.

The Line That Held Us is sorrowful and full of rage and consequence, with ample threads of beauty that appear at the most unexpected times. Dark, raw, pure, and philosophic
Katie B
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a simple story told really well. Daryl Moody was illegally hunting when he accidentally shot and killed a man. Knowing the man's brother will come after him and his family if he finds out what happened, Daryl turns to his best friend Calvin for help. And nothing will be the same again.

The heart of this story isn't something that hasn't been told countless times before. However, it's effective because it really plays into the whole what would you do to protect yourself and those you love
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
4 hard to read but wondrously written stars

“There are some things worth dying for and some things worth killing for and some things that could make a man do all sorts of things he never knew he was capable of until the time came to do them.”

Darl Moody has had a dream, an adventure, a quest with nature that he has followed for quite some time. He has been chasing a buck, it being the focus of an undertaking, an achievement, a purpose, a way in which he pits himself against what life has offered h
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Darl Moody has been after this infamous giant buck for years. So when he hears his neighbor has gone away for a week, he takes the opportunity to go hunting--off-season and illegally--on his land. But Darl never imagined it would end like this: it isn't the buck he kills, it's Carol Brewer, a member of a local family known for violence and hatred. Scared and panicked, Darl turns to his best friend, Calvin Hooper, for help. But when Carol remains missing and his brother Dwayne comes looking for h ...more
Ɗẳɳ  2.☊
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: grit-lit, noir, crime


Last year I really dropped the ball on writing and posting timely reviews. Even though I pledged several times to do better—to catch up or expand on a few mini-reviews—I never actually followed through. Well, it’s finally time to deliver on some of those promises. Just don’t expect any detailed summary or analysis because it’s been many a moon since I read most of these books, and my memory while elephantine is not eidetic.

Up first is an opinion that’s sure to draw the ire of many a fello
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Line That Held Us is less of a mystery than it is a present day Aeschylean revenge saga set in Appalachia, which explores the gruesome ramifications of a hunter accidentally shooting and killing the brother of one of the town's most notorious and violent men. The premise was really fantastic, but David Joy didn't exactly sell me on its execution.

The thing that most struck me about this book was a noticeable lack of tension in Joy's writing. Moments of horror and extreme violence were unable
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars
For whom are you willing to lay down your life?

I actually came across David Joy when I stumbled upon his review for Taylor Brown’s novel Gods of Howl Mountain. I liked his writing style and was touched by his taking the time to critically read other authors' works. This is why I was so very glad to have received this ARC. As with Gods of Howl Mountain, The Line That Held Us is very dark, bleak and gritty. Joy’s descriptions are poetic and lush; so full of meaning but unassuming. If I co
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Darl goes deer hunting and accidentally shoots a man. When he realizes who the man is, and that he is the brother of a very violent man, Darl enlists the help of his best friend Calvin to dispose of the body. The dead man's brother, Dwayne, starts looking for him and finds the path leads to Darl.

A story about revenge. This novel starts with Darl doing something bad - hunting in the off season - and gets much, much worse. Dwayne's grief leads him down a brutal path of vengeance.

The characters a
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Book of The Month: The Line that Held Us 6 48 Aug 11, 2018 05:56AM  

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David Joy is the author of the Edgar nominated novel Where All Light Tends to Go (Putnam, 2015), as well as the novels The Weight Of This World (Putnam, 2017), The Line That Held Us (Putnam, 2018), and When These Mountains Burn (Putnam, 2020). His memoir, Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Ol ...more

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