A Book Spy Review: ‘The Line That Held Us’ by David Joy


The Line that held us davud joy.jpgTwo poachers, both trespassing on private land, accidentally cross paths, kicking off this killer plot from David Joy. 

Set in North Carolina just before fall, the story opens with Darl Moody, a simple man who doesn’t give “a wet sack of sh-t what the state considered poaching.” Annoyed by hunting laws, which barely allow men like him who are just trying to feed his family provide a little meat for the dinner table, Darl sets out a few hours before dark to poach wild game. Instead, he accidentally kills a man.

While Darl was hunting out of season, Carol “Sissy” Brewer was stealing ginseng. Tragically, Moody mistakenly thought Carol was a boar. Thinking back to the time a father and son nailed a 580-pound hog just inside Transylvania County, netting them more than 150 pounds of meat, Darl was ripe with excitement, stalking the animal through the woods before finally taking a shot with his cheap rifle. Darl hit his target, amazing even himself, but quickly realized his mistake when he went to find the boar and instead found Carol sprawled out on the ground, dead. 

On one hand, neither of the men were supposed to be there, and both were in violation of the law. There’s a good chance that Darl would be charged with nothing more than poaching, even though he accidentally shot and killed Carol, who was rooting around on all fours. On the other hand, Darl knows that Carol’s big brother, Dwayne, is not the type to let such a mistake go unpunished. Fearing not only for his own safety but also for his mother, sister, nieces, and nephews, Darl calls his best friend, Calvin Hooper, to help him out. Together, under the cover of darkness, Darl and Calvin dig a grave and toss Carol’s mangled body inside it.

The sunrise hours later brings a new day and with it new problems for Darl. Just as he predicted, Dwayne Brewer, a big man with a short fuse who is quick to violence, begins investigating his brother’s absence. Known around town for walking to the beat of his own drum and adhering to his own style of justice, Dwayne loved his brother and vows to make whoever killed him pay. Following a trail of clues that Darl and Calvin failed to bury along with Carol’s body, Dwayne sets his sights on Moody, and the two go toe-to-toe in a twisted game of revenge, one that’s sure to tear people apart and leave no man standing unharmed. 

For a guy with the last name of Joy, David sure knows how to write one heck of a dark and gritty story. The Line that Held Us is noir to the bone, and Joy knows how to suck readers into his universe with a simple conflict that snowballs into an unthinkably violent tale of grace, retribution, consequences, and everything in between.

Think No Country for Old Men meets There Will Be Blood — David Joy’s The Line that Held Us is beautifully written, perfectly executed, and breathtakingly violent. 

Book Details

Author: David Joy
Pages: 272 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399574220
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: August 14, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10



Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.


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