Dry Season by Dan Smith
On the banks of a sprawling Brazilian river lies Sao Tiago. A place poised between the old ways and the new, fought over by gangsters and big business. It's a town for people with nowhere else to run; a place where Sam, a former priest, has ended up. He left England to help people, but what he's seen has scarred him, and now he cares about nothing except drinking and fishing on the great river. But one night changes all that. When a man lies bleeding on a dirt floor, what starts as a fight to save a life becomes a battle with Sao Tiago's dark heart. Caught between friends and enemies, and entangled in the affections of an ex-prostitute and a predatory landowner's wife, Sam realises that in a place where life is cheap, love can be deadly. As the long dry season stretches out ahead, Sam must face his past if he is to forge the chance of a future and survive in a town without a soul. Drawing on influences as disparate as HEART OF DARKNESS and the tales of the American West, it's a novel of shocking strength, populated with vivid characters, wild settings and raw emotion. A dark and compelling story, steeped in violence and rich in atmosphere, DRY SEASON is one of the most powerful and memorable debuts of the year.