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From the Tony Hillerman Prize-winning author of Pay Dirt Road comes Hard Rain, Samantha Jayne Allen's mesmerizing next novel set in a hardscrabble Texas town dealing with disaster.
In shock and found clinging to a tree branch, Bethany Richter is pulled from thrashing floodwaters that have decimated the town of Garnett, Texas and killed a dozen others.
Six months after solving the murder of a local waitress, Annie McIntyre is working as an apprentice P.I. when she's handed her first solo case: uncover the identity of the man who rescued Bethany before he was swept downriver.
When Annie's search turns up a different victim—shot dead, not drowned—Annie questions if the hero they seek is actually a killer.
Flexing her new skills while relying on the wisdom of her eccentric, ex-cop grandfather, the case leads Annie into a web of drug dealers, preachers, and wayward drifters trying to make sense of life after a disaster. Annie's own convictions are put to the ultimate test as long-held secrets, corruption, and violence are exposed like the ruin that lies beneath receding waters.
Praise for Pay Dirt Road:
"Wondrous....Allen proves herself as adept as the likes of David Baldacci, Lisa Gardner, and Lisa Scottoline."
—The Providence Journal
“There’s a wistful air wafting through Samantha Jayne Allen’s debut… Allen writes with keen acumen, her sentences marked with quiet yet powerful grace notes.” —The New York Times
"Samantha Jayne Allen paints a detailed picture of small-town Texan life and invites readers along on a crime-solving adventure full of deepening family relationships and life lessons." —Reader's Digest
"If you liked the realist grit of Mare of Easttown, you’ll savor this smart and layered tale from a new Georgia writer worth watching." —The Augusta Chronicle
"Intensity of plot and depth of characters lift Allen’s novel into the top tier of rural noir. And her prose, rich with the rendering of the Texas countryside, imbues Pay Dirt Road with literary merit. Impressive and intense, Pay Dirt Road exemplifies splendid crime fiction—indeed, any fiction—and establishes Allen as a gifted creator."
—Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
"While Pay Dirt Road entertains, it also makes the reader think beyond the confines of the story. That’s what good books are supposed to do." —New York Journal of Books
"Allen’s prose lights up like a neon beer sign....The Central Texas setting rings true, not just in its gratifying buffet of kolaches, H-E-B tortillas, and Texas sheet cake, but in the turreted McMansions whose smiling bluebonnet photos hide a host of sins." —Texas Monthly
"[T]he Texas landscape, with its falling-apart houses and bedraggled bars, comes alive in this remarkable novel, reminiscent of Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show." —Booklist, starred review, Top 10 Debut Mysteries & Thrillers 2022
"A dark picture of hardscrabble Texas juiced by the heroine’s angst makes for a great debut. Here’s hoping for a follow-up." —Kirkus
"Powerful...a major new talent on the crime fiction scene." —CrimeReads, Best Debut Crime Novels of the Month
"Samantha Jayne Allen hits the ground running in her poignant debut....This mystery ushers in a new author to watch." —Shelf Awareness
"Rural noir has found a stunning new voice in Samantha Jayne Allen's Pay Dirt Road, a pitch-perfect literary mystery as beautiful and thrilling as a summer storm. Channeling Veronica Mars by way of Mare of Easttown, waitress Annie McIntyre investigates the murder of a girl everyone wants to forget in her hometown of Garnett, Texas. With its haunted setting and uncompromising voice, Allen's debut invokes the restless, melancholy backroads of the Lone Star State, ranking her with Kathleen Kent, Attica Locke, and the best of the new generation of Texas writers."
—Amy Gentry, Bestselling author of Good as Gone
"Fellow Georgia scribe, Samantha Jayne Allen, has written a brilliantly paced and breathless debut novel. Pay Dirt Road is a gorgeous blend of sweeping epic and small-town mystery. From the stark and hazy Texas backdrop to the sins of the past and secrets that come home to roost, the tension never lets up. This book will have your head spinning and your heart breaking. It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. Pay Dirt Road is a perfect addition to the rural mystery genre."
—Brian Panowich, Award-winning author of Bull Mountain, Like Lions & Hard Cash Valley
“It's no mystery why Pay Dirt Road won the Tony Hillerman Prize for best debut novel: its heroine, Annie McIntyre, is smart and complex, the family and small-town dynamics are richly layered, and the evocative language drops you directly into the gritty Southwest. Samantha Jayne Allen is a writer to watch."
—Jess Lourey, Bestselling author of Unspeakable Things
"Samantha Allen has delivered a beauty of a debut novel with Pay Dirt Road. This is the best kind of literary thriller, every bit as compelling and hard-edged as we'd expect of a Tony Hillerman Prize winner, with real heart—and a scrapper of a heroine—at its core. Allen prowls this territory with the smarts and savvy of a seasoned veteran, and I look forward to seeing what this fine young writer does next."
—Ben Fountain, New York Times bestselling author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk