Friday’s Forgotten Books: Hard Man by Allan Guthrie

Married at 16, May Baxter’s husband Wallace is violent, and she decides to fool around with another man on the side. May ends up pregnant, and her husband isn’t happy.

May’s family rallies around her and decides to protect her from her husband. George Pearce doesn’t want the job, but the Baxters won’t take no for an answer.

Things go haywire from here. A series of bad and extreme decisions lead to violence and unexpected consequences. As always, Guthrie delivers with an engrossing story that hooks you from the start and keeps you turning the pages. It’s unpredictable, the writing is sharp and the storytelling is superb.

Guthrie is a master at developing characters and the plot and maintaining the pace. Guthrie also ensures that May isn’t simply window dressing; she may be young and impulsive but she is a fully developed character who holds her own in this story.

I once wrote that this is actually a love story about a man and his dog. That speaks to Guthrie’s ability to weave humor into his writing. At the same time, the violence is breathtaking, and you find yourself writhing in your chair as you read. Guthrie delivers the goods in this exceptional novel.