Cover Image: Heaven's Crooked Finger

Heaven's Crooked Finger

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Heaven's Crooked Finger was a great thriller! From start to finish, I couldn't put this one down. Packed with engaging characters, you'll be hooked!
Was this review helpful?
Wow, how can I adequately get across my absolute adoration for this book? I went into this title not thinking much about it, just knowing I needed to read it because it had been on my Netgalley shelf for quite some time, and then bam my first 5 star read of the year!

There truly isn’t anything I can say I didn’t like about this novel. The story does take you on a wild ride that does feel absolutely insane at times, but knowing what I know about so many cults, who’s to say this kind of thing doesn’t happen in the back-ends of nowhere? I’m completely astounded by how cults come about and the dedication people have to them, it’s amazing how some people are so susceptible to believe in something so many others don’t and I loved how that was represented in this novel. The cult element of this story really sold me into requesting this book and it did not disappoint!

One of my favourite things about this novel was how the location, Coulee County, was a character within itself. The Georgia setting was as much a part of the plotline as any of the human characters, it was magnificent. I think it’s fair to say I’ve fallen in love with this gritty, Deep South setting and I will be seeking out more books like this. (A couple of years ago I read Savage Reckoning – 4 stars – and I loved that for its similar vibe)!

The (human) characters in this story were superb and it was interesting getting to know each and every one of them. Our MC Earl Marcus is a troubled, lone-wolf, and rugged middle-aged man with steel fists and a heart of gold. I absolutely fell in love with him and can’t wait to read about his escapades in book 2. The love interest in this novel is Mary, who again, I loved. She never backed down from a fight and was a woman who knew exactly what she wanted, but at the same time, she was timid and loving enough to be as endearing as she was fierce. Then there was a great mix of menacing characters like Choirboy, Shaw and Earl’s father. Early is a master at creating these intense and detestable people. All the way through I hated these awful men and I was filled with so much rage at their actions.

There is a never a dull moment in Heaven’s Crooked Finger as there were just so many mysteries to follow. Is Earl’s father really dead? What happened to Bryant McCauley? What happened with Maggie when she and Earl were younger? Why are so many young women disappearing? There are so many questions that need to be answered in this story and it’s exciting to follow each one of these paths. I wasn’t sure where some of them were going to go, so it was fun to try and work out the mysteries alongside Earl Marcus.

The atmosphere in this book was unlike anything I’ve read in a long, long time. In fact, this whole book was unlike anything I’ve read in a long, long time. I absolutely adored it! The writing was superb, the characters were really well done and the story was enthralling. I cannot wait to get my hands on book 2, In the Valley of the Devil, which came out in the middle of 2018.

Thanks so much to Crooked Lane Books and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This oddly titled novel is a good start for a series that looks like its going to be fabulous.

Earl Marcus has not had a good start in life, his father is a preacher and all Earl wanted was his love and affection

I loved the tale and was absorbed quite quickly. There is an atmosphere in the writing and Earl is a great character.  The religious mania is fun and having been brought up by a fanatical mother I could totally understand  him.

Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book about a man who returns to his home and is drawn into solving a murder associated with the snake handling church of his childhood.  As he remembers the traumas of his childhood he works to solve the crime. Will he be able to solve the mystery and heal the pain of the past?
Was this review helpful?
I honestly didn't get this book finished.  The description really drew me to it--I thought the setting was interesting, the situation of the main character going into the story was intriguing--I just didn't get into it.  I'm going to keep it on my "to-read" list and hopefully come back to it at a later time.
Was this review helpful?
It’s not unusual for fictional characters to have issues with their parents. Parental drama is a great way to create a fraught backstory for a character. But Earl Marcus’ issues with his father are rather more spectacular in Hank Early’s mystery, Heaven’s Crooked Finger. Earl has not returned to the mountains of northern Georgia since he turned 18, a few years after his father handed him a cottonmouth snake in an attempt to prove Earl’s godliness (or lack thereof). He didn’t even go back when his father died. But now that there’s a possibility that Earl’s father faked his death, Earl reluctantly returns to investigate.

Things haven’t changed much in the Finger Mountains of northern Georgia in the thirty years Earl’s been gone. The Church of the Holy Flame, his father’s snake-handling, fundamentalist church, is still running the show. The local sheriff is a partner with the church’s leaders. No one wants to talk to Earl about his father’s possible “resurrection.” His only ally is also the only black, female sheriff’s deputy in the county. Between the two of them, Earl and Mary slowly start to figure out what happened to Earl’s father and a few other people who’ve gone missing since.

While the mysteries are certainly interesting, and Mary and Earl have a tricky time solving them considering their lack of support from the rest of the sheriff’s department, I was more interested in Earl’s biography. When we meet him at the beginning of the novel, Earl is a struggling private investigator and alcoholic. He is haunted by his memories of what his father did to him and the rest of the congregation: the snakes, the fire and brimstone, the obsession with sin. Not only does Earl’s return to the mountains mean a chance to solve some mysteries, but it means a chance for the detective to try to come to terms with his past and the damage he suffered.

Earl’s home county is a very sick place. Earl and his partner, Mary, blow through it like a whopping dose of penicillin. Between Earl’s originally awful backstory, the mysteries, and the strangeness of the Church’s tenets, I found Heaven’s Crooked Finger an intriguing read.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. It will be released 7 November 2017.
Was this review helpful?
“I had always wanted to believe in something.   I still do.”   

Wow. What a beginning.  As a teenager, Earl Marcus was desperate for the love of his father, a Pentecostal preacher in the hills of Northern Georgia. The kind of preacher that handles snakes and preaches hard core hell and damnation   His father has a strict sense of right and wrong, good and bad. Earl lands on the wrong side of his father’s beliefs after he is bitten by a snake during a church service.  

Time moves forward and Earl is a PI in North Carolina when he gets a letter asking him to return to Georgia before his “Granny” passes away.  He’s never resolved the trauma of his teenage years and he’s got an alcohol problem to prove it.  Oh, and he’s been sent a photo of his father taken months after his father’s supposed death.

Earl has problems but it’s hard to dislike a man that saves a pup from death by snakebite and immediately names and adopts the pup.  

The writing here has a hard edge to it, as hard as the Georgia mountains.  Early does a great job of making you feel the fear.  Not just the fear Earl had as a teenager, but that of the present day folks who are on the wrong side of the Holy Flame Church.  He gets that whole concept of being able to love and hate a parent at the same time. And he also gets that whole religious belief of being on the “right side”.  I can still remember attending a service and hearing the minister say anyone who didn’t belong to their denomination was going to hell.  It wasn’t good enough to be a Christian, you had to be part of their particular church.  This book has a lot to say about the different “Gods” that people worship.  “It wasn’t a prayer to my father's God. It was a prayer to Granny’s. To the god of goodness, the God of second chances, and the God who might not care.”

There are lots of snakes in this story which just adds to the creepiness factor that Early does so well.  I have a real problem with snakes and let me tell you, I was freaking out reading some of these scenes (my husband will attest to all the squirming I was doing while reading.)  

There are some wonderful characters here, especially Granny.  I love her comment that prayers are like kisses.  And Rufus, who was “the walking embodiment of the North Georgia gothic.”  Ok, I know I’m not supposed to quote from a pre-release, but I can't help myself!   This is an amazing book and would make a wonderful book club selection.  

My thanks to netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for an advance copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
This was a novel that really caught my attention because of the creepy/amazing cover and, of course, the intriguing blurb. I usually love this kind of southern-gothic-horror novels about families and dark secrets. I was sure I was going to enjoy it. And I certainly did, but unfortunately, not as much as I had hoped.

Don't get me wrong, this was an ok book. The mystery was appealing enough, it was easy to read and it didn't drag. There were some twist and turns and the setting was undoubtedly a great one. However, I never felt that "spark", I never really connected with the characters or the story, I felt mostly uninterested when it should've been the opposite. In the end, I guess this happens sometimes. Some books win you over and others don't.

Heaven's Crooked Finger was a good gothic mystery and an interesting beginning for what it seems it'll be a series featuring Earl Marcus. Don't hesitate and give it a chance if the blurb catches your eye. You might love it (I know some have!).
Was this review helpful?
Wow! What a series debut for Hank Early! 

The character of Earl Marcus was so vivid, complex and developed. He's a man at odds with the beliefs he was raised with and wanting to leave those beliefs, the memories of a zealot father and his painful past behind him. 

The plot was suspenseful, well-crafted and absolutely riveting. It was so easy to forget that this was a fictional story. At times, it felt like you had fallen into the recitation of someone's actual life. Secrets and lies abound and add to the rich flavor of the already well-spiced storyline. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was truly impressed.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley & Crooked Lane Books in order to read and provide a voluntary and honest review, should I choose to do so.
Was this review helpful?
I don't say this very often, but if I could give this book six stars out of five, I would. Hank Early, one of the alternate names that writer John Mantooth uses, is a phenomenal writer. This book reminded me of a fusion between Tom Piccirilli and William Faulkner. It was eerily good. The pacing was fantastic, the mysterious supernatural elements were on point, and the strained family relationships as well as guilt and inner turmoil of the protagonist were stupendously well done. I truly hope this novel receives the recognition it deserves when it comes time for it to be nominated, and I hope that more people read this novel because it is amazingly good. Even though it is set in a tiny Southern town, it still definitely has that delicious Southern Gothic feel to it. Highly recommended!
Was this review helpful?
Earl left the mountain town he was raised in thinking he would never, ever return there. When he gets word that the woman who helped him is dying, he returns but not just for her, but to also solve the mystery about whether his father is actually dead or has returned from the dead to continue leading his church. His father formed a church that handled snakes to prove their faith in God. When Earl was bitten and left to die or live he left. Earl's brother has now taken over the church. The whole town is either believers or "heathens". Earl had also gotten a photo in the mail showing his father after his death as alive as ever.

This book was a very good read. Though I was not raised in the mountains where these type of churches seem to thrive, I do come from a small town where not much has changed since the 30's-40's. Earl makes a nice main character and I would be interested to see where his life goes from here. The book did not leave you hanging like most do if the author makes a series of them.

I was given an eARC by the publisher through NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you for the opportunity to read this book.  I enjoyed it very much!
Was this review helpful?
Earl Marcus returns to his birthplace,a very rural area in North Georgia,after rumours of sightings of his father(after his death) have reached him. He left this area,his father and especially a rather weird(we're talking ordeals by snakes here)and intense evangelical church community where his father was a very charismatic preacher and leader,some 30 years previously .Not much has changed,the church still has fervent followers,moonshine is still drunk and the whole area still feels pretty isolated from the rest of the world.To make matters worse,young girls go missing and return completely disoriented, anxious and with strange marks on their body.
This a very atmospheric novel,one can feel the claustrophobic sensation and the threat of approaching thunderstorms. But as the story evolves,the storyline starts to unravel and the last half/quarter of the book could do with some serious editing.Pity...
Was this review helpful?
Not only was this story believable, it was real enough that I almost felt like I was there in certain scenes. This was actually unfortunate during a not-so-fun scene involving snakes! 

With themes of relationships, family-ties, and even a little faith, this is definitely much more than just a detective novel (not generally my first choice for go-to reading material). My only wish would've been for more of Granny; I know she's lying on her death bed but I liked her few little parts and would've loved more.

I'm glad to see that this is the first of a series, hopefully Earl has a few more intriguing adventures in his future.

favorite quote:
“I do hate him. But I also love him. In the end, aren’t they the very same thing? Don’t they both take a back seat to what you fear?"

*received free from netgalley.
Was this review helpful?
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Side note, I stalk someone on goodreads. She reads (and loves) almost everything I do. So naturally when I saw she went gonzo for this book, I had to read it myself.

It starts out SO. GOOD. The background in Earl's early years, his crazy-ass snake handling daddy, his turning away from the church - I mean, I couldn't put it down. And then.

Then there is a mystery to solve. And honestly, at first the mystery had me going. But then the story started sagging worse than a $2 mattress. There was no spark driving this part of the story the way there had been in the beginning.

The mystery is solved, the bad guys get got, our hero gets the girl (although I do see the door open for a move in a new direction). It was a good mystery, it had some really good twists and descriptions. It just seemed a bit self-conscious towards the big reveal.

Overall, 4 stars. Earl is a good leading man, and I hope to see more of him.
Was this review helpful?
Earl left the mountains of North Georgia thinking that he would never return. He then receives news that the lady he calls Granny is dying and he owes her the respect of going to visit. He also receives a weird photo that shows his Daddy..postdated after his dad's death.

Earl's Daddy was the preacher of the Church of the Holy Flame. He believed that God would strike you pretty much dead for everything. His word is law in the small north GA town and he had disowned Earl years ago. Earl was seventeen years old when he fell from his Daddy's godly ways. He was bitten by a snake during the church service because his faith just wasn't strong enough.

He finally was turned away from his family and the town when he continued to not live up to his Daddy's version of God's laws. He was taken in by the local midwife who he calls Granny. 
Earl's return to town is not such a happy occasion for the members of his Daddy's church..they pretty much still hate him. And then there's that rumor that his Daddy has risen from the grave just like he prophesied. And now young girls are showing up either dead or with strange tattoo like markings on their bodies.

You would think that this type of church doesn't exist anymore?
I don't know of any now in our area (North GA where the book is set) but I ran from the church years ago. I know that the power of the church is still alive and well in our area and there is almost fear to speak against anything that is believed inside those walls. Fear makes people do strange things. I could see the power of Earl's Daddy come alive in these pages. I've been to churches in this area that totally make me think that the storyline in this book could happen. Lots of power to men that preach the gospel, people want to believe. They feel that fear in so many different ways. Like having to make sure that their tithing is met, no matter if they go hungry. (I have a friend who does this still-she refuses to miss a week even if she can't pay her electric bill). I've also seen public shaming in church. I think most people are like Earl.....I had always wanted to believe in something. I still do so they keep going and believing.

This book blends the religious fanaticism with the mystical very well.
 Plus it's just damn good. I'll read whatever this author puts out next.
We swung by the "pawn shop," which was nothing more than a double-wide trailer on blocks with a large posterboard attached to one of the windows that read, "Als' Fire-Arm's and Pown." It looked like it had been written by a fourth grader who was well on his way to failing the year. For the second time.
Was this review helpful?
If Travis McGee grew up in a fundamentalist church in south Georgia, he would be Earl Marcus.  Tough, capable of violence but compassionate, Earl Marcus is the best kind of protagonist.  He's far from perfect but his humanity is what draws him to us.  When Marcus returns to his hometown to find out whether his father is alive or dead (they had a funeral, didn't they?), he encounters every mistake he ever made and a myriad of enemies that want him gone.   Luckily, he forms his own cadre of supporters:  a blind man, a dog, and a sheriff's deputy with the challenges attendant to being black and female in rural Georgia.  Great characters, great plotting; I will definitely read more Earl Marcus adventures.
Was this review helpful?
Wow! Just .........Wow! 
Phenomenal book by Hank Early! Haunting, rich in southern flavor, and oh,so good. This is a mystery with supernatural overtones dealing with the power and influence fathers have over their sons. Private investigator Earl Marcus comes home to deal with years of guilt, regrets, and a 30 year-old mystery and takes us for one hell of a ride in the process. I just hope this isn't the last we hear from Earl! More please!
Was this review helpful?
Great book! Looking forward to reading more by this author! Highly recommend!
Was this review helpful?