Rusty Barnes just flat out kicked my ass. I dove into Ridgerunner not knowing what to expect and I was ill prepared for what I found. What did I find you ask? I found a crime novel, wrapped in a multi-layered drama about the need for family, the lengths you go for family, and the depths of despair you can bring upon your loved ones through your choices. Barnes layered these elements in a manner that left me drained and longing for the next part in this trilogy.

Matt Rider works as a conservationist and is often at war with the local bad-ass family, the Pittmans. When Rider is attacked by one of the family members and barely survives, he sets off a chain reaction that has him popping pills to alleviate the injuries he receives, traipsing through the mountain with his brother as they search for revenge, and trying to determine where some of the Pittman’s missing money is located. But the beautiful artistry of Barnes writing is centered on Rider’s attempts to keep his wife, who has emotional & mental issues, by his side, both physically and emotionally, while still staying true to his need to see this issue through to the end. His older brother also plays a large part in the plot, as the brothers share a sense of commitment and duty to family members and they will stake their lives on seeing this duty through till the end.

Barnes has a master piece on his hands and 280 Steps has published another winner. Barnes has certainly piqued my interest in getting my hands of more of his work. I am thrilled to see this is just the first part in an expected trilogy revolving around Rider and the Pittman family. If the future books in the series reach the heights this novel has set, this could be a trilogy for the ages. This was some strong writing and I am in awe of what I just read.

Highly Recommended.
Reviewed by Derrick Horodyski.