The Hunt


Product Details

$16.99  $15.80
Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date
5.6 X 8.45 X 0.94 inches | 0.79 pounds
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About the Author

Kelly J. Ford is the author of Real Bad Things and the award-winning Cottonmouths, a novel of "impressive depths of character and setting" according to the Los Angeles Review, which named it one of its Best Books of 2017. An Arkansas native, Kelly writes crime fiction set in the Ozarks and the Arkansas River Valley.


Praise for The Hunt

"Truly absorbing...Ford renders the town of Presley, Ark., as a living entity swirling with resentments and loyalties, and governed by fear, thanks to wild rumors that a serial murderer stalks prey at the town's famous 'Hunt for the Golden Egg' each Easter...You won't find any tidy narratives or simple judgments here." --New York Times Book Review

"Ford is particularly good at laying down subtle bread crumbs for readers to follow, utilizing fun devices such as a Google Doc moderated by amateur sleuths who are trying to identify the Hunter. This basket is stuffed with surprises." --Publishers Weekly

"An Easter egg hunt in Presley, Arkansas is the unlikely springboard for a serial killer's diabolical plot in Kelly J. Ford's newest standout thriller. Ford takes all that small-town rumor and agitation and burns it down to its purest form, where every incident is loaded with significance and the race to untangle truth from supposition becomes almost impossible. Ford pulls off the high-wire act with coolness and style to spare." --CrimeReads

"Better than almost anyone writing today, Kelly J. Ford is able to spot the magic in the mundane and craft a compelling story around what others simply look right past. The Hunt is just the latest example of her ability to draw readers into the chaos and craziness of everyday life while exploring themes of shared trauma, family dynamics, and the societal constraints of small town America. Add a serial killer into the mix and you have yourself one hell of a book." --Best Thriller Books

"The Hunt by Kelly J Ford is a down home dark and suspenseful trip though the legends and lore that make the South the beautiful haunted place it is. Kelly is a wordsmith of the first order and this story grabs you on page one and never let's go!" --S.A. Cosby bestselling author of Razorblade Tears

"No one does small town noir like Kelly J. Ford. With an enticing premise and characters rich in nuance if not money, The Hunt is a welcome addition to any crime fiction lovers bookshelf. I loved it." --Kellye Garrett, award winning and Edgar nominated author of Like A Sister

"Imagine if Megan Abbott penned a chilling yarn about an annual Easter egg hunt in backwoods Arkansas, and you're getting close to what Kelly J. Ford's pulled off in her next novel. The Hunt perfectly captures the strangeness that lurks behind the guise of so many small-town Southern traditions. Nobody does buried secrets better than Kelly. But this dark rural noir conjures up more than just old ghosts--it shines a fresh new light on the truth." --Eli Cranor, author of Don't Know Tough and Ozark Dogs

"Ford's The Hunt cements her as not only one of the best Southern fiction writers around but also one of the best contemporary writers period. There's a macabre playfulness to The Hunt as each unpredictable twist builds to an ending no one will see coming. But despite the dark humor, this is ultimately a story about how guilt can consume and destroy, especially in small towns, where empathy can be in short supply and gossip is a sport. Ford knows how to put her characters' humanity front and center even as they repeatedly stumble down dangerous paths. These are damaged people you want to see win." --Heather Levy, author of the Anthony-nominated Walking through Needles

"Kelly J. Ford is a modern master of the rural noir--dragging the elements of a classic tale and reshaping it with a tone and viewpoint that is undoubtedly modern and alive. The Hunt is loaded with tension and razor-sharp plotting but also lets readers engulf themselves in the all-too-human characters Ford is so adept at creating. A small-town suspense novel that evokes tales like Megan Abbott's The Fever and Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects with Ford's trademark voice. A winner." --Alex Segura, bestselling author of Secret Identity

Praise for Real Bad Things

"Acclaimed author Kelly J. Ford spins a propulsive, sophisticated, and fearlessly queer tour de force in Real Bad Things. Ford's richly drawn characters and breathtaking storytelling create an inescapable undertow of menace that will not let go until the final, shocking page. This is gothic suspense at its most haunting." --P. J. Vernon, author of Bath Haus

"Ford's follow-up to her devastating debut novel, Cottonmouths, is a moving meditation on misplaced loyalties, love, and the legacy of violence and abuse, all wrapped in a mystery filled with guy-wire tension." --John Vercher, author of Three-Fifths

"A powerful, grounded, and dark dose of rural noir, Real Bad Things is a tale of a homecoming gone wrong. Kelly J. Ford evokes the work of superstars like Gillian Flynn and Daniel Woodrell in this story of dark secrets coming back to roost and pulls it all through the prism of her own potent voice. This is a down-and-dirty crime novel that nods to the masters while keeping both feet firmly planted in the present. I loved it." --Alex Segura, acclaimed author of Secret Identity, Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall, and Blackout

"This absolutely gripping and gorgeously written Southern noir grabs hold and does not let go until the very last page. Ford's darkly atmospheric writing transports you right to the underbelly of Maud Bottoms--where the water teems with dead bodies, hidden secrets, forbidden love, and past betrayals--and pulls you inescapably into its ominous current, then shocks you with its final twist. Real Bad Things is Southern gothic perfection." --Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne, Holding On to Nothing, winner of the IPPY Gold Award for Southern Regional Fiction

"At the start of this gripping suspense novel from Ford, Jane Mooney, who's been living in Boston, returns home to Maud Bottoms, Arkansas...The truth slowly unfolds as the plot builds toward a surprising conclusion foreshadowed by a trail of skillfully disguised clues. Ford delivers the goods." --Publishers Weekly

"A confessed killer's return home brings long-buried secrets to life with a series of seismic jolts." --Kirkus Reviews

"Beautifully written and socially astute, Real Bad Things delivers on the promise of Ford's debut, Cottonmouths." --CrimeReads

"With layers of storytelling portraying generational trauma, small towns, and the unbearable confines their scrutiny can place on anyone who feels different, as well as the unbreakable bonds that adversity can forge, Real Bad Things is sometimes a hard read but always an excellent one. Readers looking for slow-burn mystery with unforgettable characters and an unforgettable atmosphere will find here exactly what they need." --Mystery and Suspense Magazine

"This atmospheric, suspenseful novel will keep you guessing and page turning all the way to the end." --Good Housekeeping

"Some writers seem to have a natural affinity for originality and the kind of narrative-driven storytelling that immediately engages and then holds the reader's total attention from first page to last. Clearly, with the publication of Real Bad Things, Kelly J. Ford has proven herself to be one of those novelists." --Midwest Book Review

"Kelly J. Ford is the moonshine-soaked voice rural noir has been looking for." --S. A. Cosby

Praise for Cottonmouths

"Ford's novel features a lesbian protagonist, yet sexuality is only one facet of her strongly drawn character. Emily suffers from unrequited love, from betrayal, and from a longing for meaning and acceptance. Her struggles, as well as those of her family and community, are universal struggles set in a brutal reality where choices are scarce. Read this debut novel for its ability to go beneath the surface, striking impressive depths of character and setting." --Los Angeles Review, the Best Books of the Year, 2017

"Refreshingly, Cottonmouths refuses to romanticize unrequited love...Cottonmouths is not a love story: it's a tale of resentment, venomous betrayal, and the wounds hidden beneath familiar surfaces. Through a kaleidoscope of characters, Ford's dark novel shows us the choices people make when the world denies them good options and the consequences of complicity." ―Lambda Literary

"Filled with foreboding and anguished desire, Cottonmouths is a perfectly paced drama of the perils of loyalty, love, and homecoming. A terrific novel by an exciting new queer voice." ―Christopher Castellani, author of All This Talk of Love and Leading Men

"Gripping and atmospheric. A tense tale of the specific gravity of the places and the people we come from and can never fully leave behind." ―Kate Racculia, Bellweather Rhapsody

"A taut page-turner trembling with desire and regret, Kelly J. Ford's debut, Cottonmouths, strips away nostalgia for person and place when the return of one young woman reveals the rotting core of a small Southern town, unraveling with the ferocity of addiction and forcing a painful lesson―she must learn to let go of her delusions in both love and friendship before it's too late." ―Michelle Hoover, author of Bottomland

"Kelly J. Ford's Cottonmouths is a fierce first novel―startling in its grip and authenticity. It's a novel about desire and desperation and the perilous danger of loving broken people in broken places." ―Travis Mulhauser, author of Sweetgirl

"A compelling story of unrequited love, identity, and the power of letting go." ―Heather Newton, author of Under the Mercy Trees

"Part noir, part Southern gothic, Cottonmouths is far more than the sum of these parts―an original story that haunted me after I read it. Kelly J. Ford's unflinching prose plunges readers into the town of Drear's Bluff, where what's familiar isn't what's safe and where desire proves deadly." ―Stephanie Gayle, author of Idyll Threats

"With prose as lyrical and languid as a hot Arkansas summer, Kelly J. Ford explores the myopia of desire―and its tragic aftermath. I found myself torn between wanting to rip through these pages to find out what would happen and a need to slow down and savor Ford's sentences. A remarkable debut." ―Lisa Borders, author of The Fifty-First State

"Kelly J. Ford delivers a sharp punch to the gut with this tightly spun modern noir tale. I can't wait to read more from this author." ―Tiffany Quay Tyson, author of Three Rivers

"Ford's debut novel traces the sobering struggles of small-town meth addiction, sexual identity, and the choices people make when good options are in short supply." Los Angeles Times

"Kelly J. Ford's novel Cottonmouths captures life in backwoods America like a fish in a frying pan. Ford takes her young, raw, flailing characters and rakes them over the heat of a high-octane plot until their vulnerable insides sizzle on the page." Shelf Awareness

"Cottonmouths, another book that seems to sample the new territory wrought by David Joy and Frank Bill, is an original addition to the meth-and-magnolia genre...This debut novel from Kelly J. Ford is sensitive yet brutal, with Ford giving her protagonist, Emily, believable flaws while nailing small-town Southern culture in the new world that has replaced Welty and Connery with Joy and Crews. A terrific new voice in the genre." ―Shelf Discovery

"Cottonmouths paints a disturbing picture of deep darkness lurking just below the surface of small-town America." Mystery Scene magazine

"A Southern gothic queer masterpiece." ―S. A. Cosby, Do Some Damage

"We talk about the need for diverse books in America; Cottonmouths shows us a version of our country seldom given its own narrative. Kelly J. Ford writes with honesty, subtlety, and grace." --Patricia Park, Re Jane

"Cottonmouths is an astonishingly assured debut from Kelly J. Ford, a writer who daringly plumbs the depths of both love and despair in a new and chilling South rendered with taut and pitch-perfect detail. Trust me, this is a book you will remember." ―Kimberly Elkins, author of What Is Visible

"Kelly J. Ford's Cottonmouths is a heartbreaking debut about the lies we tell ourselves to brave the past--and the truths we hide that hurt us most. An honest, unflinching portrait of yearning and loss." ―Andy Davidson, author of In the Valley of the Sun