To Kill or Be Killed


Bull Mountain, by Brian Panowich

There are only a few types of novels these days, although the form is replicating itself. We have the stud of the twenty-first century, the literary novel, with its various permutations, and we have the genre novel, where most writers learn and earn their bones. Newly minted writer Brian Panowich is of the second persuasion and has learned the gift of non-linear storytelling. Meaning he can tell a story complex in time and structure. And for the most part Bull Mountain is a decent first effort.


His is the fictional story of the Burroughs family of rural and mountainous north Georgia. These gents are violent-from-the-grave ne’er do wells, and their women are not far behind. Panowich plays with the Southern theme of persons locked into place, as if their land were another character – and in Panowich’s hands, north Georgia is. I won’t burden this down with their lineage, but it leads in 2015 to a death-dealing, almost biblical conflict between the two remaining brothers of the family, Clayton and Halford. Clayton is a local sheriff and brother Hal is a drug dealing psychopath. Events conspire to bring them to a showdown, both legal and familial, and the author leads us readers into it with page-turning expertise.

Panowich still has some to learn concerning structuring such complexities, and his dialogue can be overwrought in places. Still, his storytelling gift brings him to the writer’s table, and with this he’s inspired.

My Rating: 16 of 20 stars

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3 thoughts on “To Kill or Be Killed

  1. Good review. Bob is good at getting the gist of the story in concise terms. I just ran across a review on Amazon that he did for one of my books and was very gratified. I also appreciated the added knowledge about my work that I gained from the review. Good reviews often have some things one doesn’t like, but think of it as an area that one needs to work on.

    1. What does ‘your comment is awaiting moderation’ mean? Am I not supposed to write my thoughts? I did think your review of Panowich’s novel was a helpful review.

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