Ree Dolly's father has skipped bail on charges that he ran a crystal meth lab, and the Dollys will lose their house if he doesn't show up for his next court date. With two young brothers depending on her, 16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost.
The author is obsessed by the weirdness of incongruity: the way the little boys watch fancy English ways on public television while their own lives drown in squalor; the way Ree and Gail bicker over processed grated cheese in the general store; the way the most villainous mountain women can be felled not by gunshot but by that most subtle and feminine of weapons -- round after round of righteous gossip. I don't know if this is a book that the reader is supposed to like or not. Woodrell simply shows us a world, the raw meat of it. If we can't stomach his reality, it's our problem, not his.