Soil by Jamie Kornegay

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Soil by Jamie Kornegay

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Steve Shayler
Reviewed by Steve Shayler
Summary: Soil is a dark and humorous crime story about a man losing his grip on his sanity, a promiscuous police deputy and a haggard old hunter all heading for a collision and dragging those around them into the fray.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 368 Date: March 2015
Publisher: Two Roads
ISBN: 978-1473607033

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Jay Mize is a scientific man with a particular interest in soil and agriculture. He decides he is the one to pioneer a revolution in farming techniques and uproots his wife and son to set up an experimental farm on a plot of land in the country. Jay is also an obsessive man and his plans take over, becoming his only focus and causing his family to leave him. Then flooding ruins his crops and he is left at the end of his tether; things only get worse when Jay finds a dead body on his land and his tenuous grip on his sanity is released.

Soil is likened to the Coen Brothers on the front jacket and it is easy to see why. The actions of the main characters are wildly against the grain and the plotline involving a sleepy agricultural community with eccentric characters dealing with a disturbing situation in weird and often shocking ways is very reminiscent of the wonderful film and TV series Fargo and the off kilter feel of the book is very Coen Brothers. The style of writing also reminds me of Joe R Lansdale with its southern setting, black humour and storyteller delivery. It is an interesting and amusing yarn that like many Lansdale tales left me wondering many times whether it was meant to be serious or not.

Reading the demise of the main character can be a bit depressing and he becomes almost impossible to relate to and even started to irritate me a little by the end. Jay is not the only person we follow though and the police deputy within the story provides plenty of comic relief even though he is again a very sad individual whose sleaziness and cocky attitude remind me of cartoon characters Johnny Bravo and Pepe le Pew.

The story builds gradually to a climax and feels quite epic in its explosiveness. Relationships are built and burnt and pretty much every character takes a bit of a battering in some way as the plot unfolds. The final act ends in a way that leaves enough to interpretation to make it really satisfying but in an intriguing way that allows the reader to make their own decision about the ultimate fate of the characters.

This won’t be everybody’s cup of tea and the nonchalant manner in which the violence is portrayed can be quite unsettling. Many of the main characters feel a little exaggerated and are almost like cartoon characters which although often amusing does make them hard to relate to. The story itself is pretty farfetched but never so much as to undermine its credibility and the way it is written lends it a degree of believability that left me thinking that stranger things have happened.

I really did enjoy reading this tale of murder, paranoia and tumultuous relationships and I would eagerly read another novel by Jamie Kornegay as there were elements such as the humour and the wonderfully rich setting that were often fantastic. If his next offering depicts characters with a little more subtlety and continues to impress in the same way Soil has, then I’m sure it will receive many four and five star reviews. I would still gladly recommend this debut novel to the right people; those who like the lines between humour and horror to be a little blurred.

For another good dose of crime literature in an array of different styles try Killer Year by Lee Child (Editor).

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Buy Soil by Jamie Kornegay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Soil by Jamie Kornegay at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Soil by Jamie Kornegay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Soil by Jamie Kornegay at


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