The Devil's Smoke House

The Devil’s Smoke House

There were always two options: the closet or under the bed.

In the 1960s, young Jenkins and his sister Jill are trying to grow up in a dusty, hardscrabble area a few miles out from a one-stoplight town in the American southwest. It’s a long bus ride through farmland to school where both children put on brave faces to cover up for the nights they suffer at the hands of their violent, alcoholic father, to whom they refer as the Devil. In his drunken rampages he regularly beats Jenkins, Jill, and their mother, smashes up the shabby dwelling that serves as their home, and then retreats to his bedroom, his chamber of horrors.

As they grow into adolescence, Jill copes by focusing on doing well in school so that she can get out as soon as she can, as Jenkins is sucked into a life of truancy and increasing violence. While contemplating eventual revenge on his father, Jenkins must decide how to handle people and situations whose evil and cruelty will test ordinary readers’ imaginations. The realities of the lives of Jenkins and Jill are not unfamiliar to author Justin Jones, who has firsthand experience in the juvenile and adult justice systems. The Devil’s Smokehouse is an unvarnished story of the ravages of rural poverty and an unsparing look at one boy managing to triumph against crushing odds.

The Devil’s Smokehouse, by Justin Jones, is a suspenseful thriller. I was immediately immersed in the murky depths of this rural, criminal underworld. The story revolves around Jenkins, a young boy, whose past is marked by abuse, tragedy, and unresolved mysteries. When he stumbles upon a web of criminal activities centered around an enigmatic place known as The Devil’s Smokehouse, he becomes consumed with discovering secrets that will finally answer all of his questions and help heal his past.

Jones’s writing style is engaging and fast-paced. The tension escalates steadily, keeping readers eagerly turning pages to uncover the next revelation. The vivid descriptions of the settings, from the shadowy roads to the hidden corners of “The Devil’s Smokehouse,” add a palpable sense of atmosphere to the novel. Jones’s attention to detail paints a vivid picture of the dangerous world his characters inhabit, making it feel both tangible and menacing.

I could not put it down!

Laura Hacker-Brown

The Perils of Ms. Apple

During the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, violence tears the city apart. One woman, Apple Lewis, is caught in the carnage. She barely escapes with her life, but luckily, two mysterious men rescue her. They whisk her away from the bloodshed and give her another chance at a mystical life she never could have imagined.

Her saviors are decedents of an ancient Native American tribe referred to as Spirit Walkers. The Spirit Walkers discovered the fountain of youth, and now Ms. Apple is offered the opportunity to share their immortal gifts. Upon acceptance of their offer, her travels take her away from Tulsa and on an enigmatic journey as the world changes around her.

Her passage through time and place is not without threats, however, as villains long for the secret of her eternal youth. To protect herself, she receives other strange gifts from the Spirit Walkers. Ms. Apple has the chance to see the world turn for decades and decades without fear of age or death, but that does not make her immune to horror or conspiracy.

Tales of the Caseload

Tales of the Caseload is a colorful set of short stories about the trial and tribulations of probation and parole officers and their clients. The sometimes funny, often poignant and always thought-provoking vignettes that are encapsulated in this book provide a rare insight into the world of community corrections.