Review: A Single Shot by Matthew F. Jones

single-shot-coverTitle: A Single Shot

Author: Matthew F. Jones

Publisher: Mullholland Books

Release Date: Sept. 19, 2011

Received from:

When I finish a good book, I always have to sit back for a few minutes and let that world have time to leave my mind because when I’m reading, I’m there–I’m in the story, in the world the author has written, and it always takes a bit of time for me to come back to baseline, my own reality.

A Single Shot grabbed a hold of me from the first page and didn’t let me go until I had finished reading. I’m still kinda “in that world” at the moment.

I loved the main character and the voice throughout the novel. We stayed in John Moon’s head from the moment he set out to illegally kill the buck and killed the young girl accidentally until the very end. We (the readers) felt what he felt as his already-turned-upside-down world spun again in a totally unexpected way.

The author did a beautiful job of describing the poor farming mindset. Sure, this is a fictional account of a man who kills a young girl because he thought she was a deer, but there’s no confusion — this is a good man. This is a good man who has made his share of mistakes and has paid for them. He’s a simple farmer, raised on a farm and, if it weren’t for some bad luck, he’d have been living and working on a farm left to him by his family. Instead, times started changing.

Sometimes those of us who were raised in the country feel it — the times continue to change and pull humanity away from toiling the earth and working the soil. Things change — and the world moves on.

In this story, the world has moved on and John Moon has been left behind. His wife has left him with their infant son and is working on the education she neglected to marry him in the first place. The daughter of the man who owns the farm where he grew up is going to college to study economics; her brother’s studying computers.

The only disappointment I had with this novel was that I had kept it for a long period of time before reading and reviewing it — I should have read it the instant the download had finished.



After the loss of his family farm, John Moon is a desperate man. A master hunter, his ability to poach game in-season or out is the only thing that stands between him and the soup kitchen line. Until Moon trespasses on the wrong land, hears a rustle in the brush, and fires a single fateful shot.

Following the bloody trail, he comes upon a shocking scene: an illegal, deep woods campground filled with drugs, bundles of cash and the body of a dead young woman, killed by Moon’s stray bullet.

Faced with an ultimate dilemma, Moon has to make a choice: does he take the money and ignore his responsibility for the girl’s death? Or confess?

But before he has a chance to decide, Moon finds himself on the run, pursued by those who think the money is theirs. Men who don’t care about right and wrong and who want only one thing from John Moon: his body, face down in a ditch.

Rich with dark Americana splendor and raw emotion, Matthew F. Jones’ A Single Shot is a rare, visionary thriller reminiscent of the work of Tom Franklin, Ron Rash, Daniel Woodrell, and Cormac McCarthy.

“A backwoods drama that is part Crime and Punishment, part Deliverance, and all white-knuckled suspense….it packs a helluva punch.”-People

“A harrowing literary thriller….a powerful blend of love and violence, of the grotesque and the tender.”-The New York Times

“A terrific novel….you can hardly breathe while you’re reading this book….his crisis evokes every palm-sweating, heart-stopping, seemingly undoable mistake you’ve ever made.”-Los Angeles Times

Matthew F. Jones’s 1999 novel Deepwater was adapted for a 2006 film of the same title. He lives in Charlottesville, VA.

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