Four years after the release of his brilliant debut novel, Bull Mountain (2015), Brian Panowich finally delivers a sequel that was worth waiting for.
Following the deaths of his brothers, Clayton Burroughs, sheriff of Bull Mountain, is still recovering from injuries and emotional scars that he’s accepted might never heal when outsiders attempt to run OxyContin through Georgia—hoping that Burroughs will follow family tradition and look the other way.
Though he comes from a long line of outlaws, Clayton locks horns with the group known as the Leek clan, who, it turns out, has another motive for wandering around Bull Mountain. Though it wasn’t that long ago when nobody dared to mess with the Burroughs, times are a-changing, made of worse by Clayton’s fragile mental state and self-medicating with pills and alcohol, making him ripe for an overthrow on the mountain his family has run for decades.
Though he wants to do the right thing and uphold the oath he swore as sheriff, Clayton’s judgment is compromised, both by the pills and booze and the growing tension between him and his wife, who are trying to hold it together in order to raise their infant son when the Leek crew makes their presence felt in more ways than one—leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake. Suddenly, Clayton is confronted with the ugly reality that in order to do his job and survive the onslaught, he must embrace the ways of his family, getting down in the mud with the bad guys . . . even if it means getting a little dirt on his hands in the process.
Though it’s very much on the dark and gritty side, falling somewhere between Don Winslow and some of C.J. Box’s standalone novels, Panowich skillfully mixes in a number of touching scenes and moments, some even from the villainous characters, creating incredible balance throughout. The emotionally-charged opening sets the tone perfectly for what’s to follow—capped off with an explosive ending that tops even the much-talked-about conclusion to Bull Mountain. That said, the heart of the story isn’t in the tone or message, but rather the characters, as Panowich continues to create a memorable, relatable cast and shows that he knows how to get the most out of his characters. Clayton, a bona fide star-in-the-making, is a wounded soul, the depth of which is described in such detail that readers won’t help but feel his pain, anguish, and anger as the story charges along—creating the type of hypnotic, page-turning experience that doesn’t come around too often.
Dark, raw, and honest, Brian Panowich’s Like Lions is a beautifully written, powerful crime thriller that’ll have readers begging for more.
Author: Brian Panowich
Series: Clayton Burroughs #2
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: April 30, 2019
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). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.