These are some more pre-pub reviews for Oregon Hill. (They like it. They really like it.) I'm lining up signings and readings now.
Booklist June 1, 2012
Oregon Hill. Owen, Howard (Author), Jul 2012. 240 p., Permanent Press, hardcover, $28.00. (9781579622084).
Willie Black, a reporter who’s about as close to washed up as a guy can get while still being employed, stumbles onto the story of his career when a young woman’s decapitated body is discovered, and Willie, unlike nearly everyone else involved in the case, doesn’t believe that the man arrested for the crime is the killer. Owen, whose first book, 1994’s Littlejohn, may also be his most well known, is a careful, precise writer, creating characters so real that we have to keep reminding themselves they’re fictional, and stories
so haunting that they stay with the reader long after the books are back on the shelf. As usual, his latest has a stellar cast: down-and-almost-out Willie; shifty local cop (and Willie’s antagonist) David Junior Shiflett; the dead girl’s father, who receives his daughter’s head in a UPS box; Martin Fell, the accused killer (whose name, not to put too fine a point on it, suggests he might be a fall guy). Character-driven crime fiction executed with style. — David Pitt
New York Journal of Books
Oregon Hill is a wondrous trip into the world of sarcastic newspaper reporters, bad cops, and murder most foul.
Having worked as a newspaper reporter, Mr. Owen writes in a captivating voice, his acute observations granting authenticity to the bullet-speed pace of the story. Newspaperman Willie Black is masterfully created, ink and dark humor coursing through his hardboiled veins. It is hoped that this is the beginning of a series of books staring Willie and crew. Bring on the sequel!
Small Press Reviews
In Oregon Hill, Howard Owen pulls double-duty by crafting a compelling page-turner
and offering commentary on the dying art of investigative journalism. His protagonist
is an aging reporter named Willie Black who's recently been assigned to cover the night
cops' beat—a demotion that places him squarely at the center of a murder investigation
even as his career teeters on the brink of oblivion. Shortly after a missing co-ed turns
up decapitated in the South Anna River, Willie is as relieved as anyone in Oregon Hill
when the apparent murderer is apprehended. Haunted by a miscarriage of justice he
witnessed in his younger days, however, Willie can't leave well enough alone, and his
investigation leads him into increasingly dangerous territory. Meanwhile, his best friend
is under investigation for robbery, his mother's lover is drifting deep into senility, and his
latest ex-wife is hounding him for the rent. In short, Willie has struck the perfect work-
life balance insofar as his work and his life are equally thorny. Indeed, that Willie has
so much to juggle speaks volumes for the author's prowess as a storyteller: Owen never
misses a beat or leaves a narrative thread untended for too long.
While the narrative is certainly compelling, what gives Oregon Hill a degree of heft
is its commentary on the fate of print journalism in the digital age. To an extent, the
novel decries the sad state of affairs created by the dwindling readership for traditional
newspapers. At the same time, however, Owen is careful not to indulge in too much
hand-wringing, as his protagonist is quick to recognize the value of so-called "new
media" even if he's somewhat reluctant to embrace it. In this sense, Oregon Hill looks
forward as much as it looks back, and offers a fairly complex look at our culture's current
relationship with journalism.
Reminiscent of Carl Hiaasen's Basket Case, Oregon Hill is as smart as it is thrilling, a
true literary page-turner.