River Creed
by Kelly Coleman

"Generally speaking, Cadillac Hollow is the preserve of the lawless..."

Written in the present tense, this book is the third in a trilogy about the crimes of incest, murder, and rape in the Missouri Ozarks. The gritty novel tracks the response of a group of people who decide to put an end to the corruption that has enabled multiple crimes to go unpunished. The reader sides with the “outliers,” vigilantes who avenge twisted practices following the torture, kidnapping, assault, rape, and murder of individuals of different genders and ages by establishment figures. An example of their integrity and commitment is their entering the property of a perpetrator to view and dig into the grave of a murdered child.

The use of the present tense in the narrative contributes to the feeling of the inclusion of the reader in the situations. The text also describes grotesque actions through narration by one of the victims. Although the book could have benefitted from additional editing, the reader is drawn in easily by the drama.

Actions taken by individuals when the established order fails to provide justice is a major theme in many books about the American South, including To Kill a Mockingbird and Fried Green Tomatoes. Coleman’s book, along with the others in the series, illustrates the need for and truth of the phrase “vigilante (outlier) justice.” The author—a former teacher and land trader in Missouri—has lived in that state for many years. The title of the book refers to a place but could also reference a code by which the outliers live.

Category Finalist for the 2021 Eric Hoffer Book Award

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