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The Dark Hollows of West Virginia
The Dark Hollows of West Virginia (Autographed)

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by Mack Samples

Henry David Thoreau once wrote that “most men live lives of quiet desperation.” Scholars say Thoreau drew this conclusion based on the people he observed in his native northeastern United States. But headlines in any part of the country tell us that Thoreau’s observation describes Americans everywhere. Not a day goes by without a prominent citizen being exposed for his part in the latest scandal. Countless men and women lead second and third lives, often never exposed. Indeed, the very elite, and guilty, keep a phalanx of handlers, publicists, and lawyers solely to protect them from the press, their own bad behavior, and sometimes, the police.

In Dark Hollows, native West Virginian author Mack Samples tells the story of a shocking double homicide in fictitious “Transparent County,” West Virginia. Sheriff Caleb McKee leads the investigation of those murders, exposing a group of the community’s most prominent men. While Samples’ story, locale and characters are fictitious, we could find their real-life counterparts in the headlines of any state and local paper.

In Samples’ novel, all the guilty parties are prominent men who enjoy the admiration, respect and privilege of their community. But how far does that privilege extend, and what kind of men are they really? What secrets are harbored in the dark hollows where they live? As Sheriff McKee works the case, he shockingly learns that, indeed, many of his old friends and peers did indeed “live lives of quiet desperation.”