Small Town Sins: A Novel (Hardcover)
Ken Jaworowski’s Small Town Sins is a gripping Rust Belt thriller that captures the characters of a down-and-out Pennsylvania town, revealing their troubled pasts and the crimes that could cost them their lives.
In Locksburg, Pennsylvania, a former coal and steel town whose best days seem long past, five thousand residents have toughed it out, and have reasons for both worry and hope as this neglected place teeters between decay and renewal. For some of them, their biggest troubles have just arrived.
After years of just scraping by, three restless souls have their lives upended: Nathan, a volunteer fireman who uncovers a secret stash of money in a burning building and takes it; Callie, a nurse whose tender patient may not have long to live, despite the girl’s fundamentalist parents’ ardent beliefs; and Andy, a recovering heroin addict who undertakes a nightmare mission to hunt down and stop a serial predator.
Before long, Nathan’s stolen riches threaten to destroy everyone around him as he tries to cover his haphazard trail of lies. Callie risks her career to grant her young patient a final, and likely illegal, wish. And Andy’s hunger for vigilante justice becomes a fierce obsession that may end in violence.
As their stories barrel toward unexpected ends, Nathan, Callie, and Andy struggle to endure—or escape. They each face their pasts and gamble on their futures, and confront the underside of their rough Rust Belt town. Riveting, evocative, and unforgettable, Small Town Sins is a debut novel that marks the arrival of a major new talent.
About the Author
Ken Jaworowski is an editor at the New York Times. He graduated from Shippensburg University and the University of Pennsylvania. He grew up in Philadelphia, where he was an amateur boxer, and his plays have been produced in New York and Europe. He lives in New Jersey with his family. Small Town Sins is his first novel.
“A deeply evocative thriller that lives at the intersection of bad decisions and bad luck, Small Town Sins is an extraordinary debut, which will have you riveted from page one.”
—Laura Dave, author of The Last Thing He Told Me
“Jaworowski is a brilliant storyteller…and a merciless one. His three main characters draw bad card after bad card. It would be a daunting world to visit if it weren’t so redeemed by the startling generosity and warmth of Jaworowski’s writing: he pulls your heartstrings till they snap. And he’s written a gripping, poignant book.”
—Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan
“Imagine my delight at this wonderful little book, this riotous cross-section of John Irving and Jim Thompson. These characters breathe the same air other people breathe, they work jobs like real people do. An addictive read from its first page, Small Town Sins pays the reader’s attention back with love. A crime book that kept surprising me with its warmth and vigor page after page—it’s a delight, well-told and deeply felt.”
—John Darnielle, author of Devil House
“Original, bittersweet, twisting, and triumphant. Small Town Sins takes a thrilling and deeply emotive look at cause and effect, at the decisions we make and the lessons we disregard. I adored it.”
—Chris Whitaker, author of We Begin at the End
“A tour de force of lives on the edge. A page-turner that I couldn’t put down. When you think left, it hits you right; when you think it’s safe, the ice starts to crack. A seriously good noir thriller.”
—Willy Vlautin, author of Lean on Pete
"I really enjoyed the dark, gritty, and very human Small Town Sins by Ken Jaworowski. Callie, Nathan, and Andy are three characters who will stay with you."
—Harlan Coben, author of Tell No One
“Small Town Sins is a compelling portrait of a community, told through the eyes of three desperate people whose lives go off the rails. Jaworowski has given the reader both a page-turning noir thriller and a rich, character-driven tragedy of hard lives and bad choices. A fierce and propulsive book!”
—Dan Chaon, author of Sleepwalk
“Sitting comfortably at the pinnacle of psychological thriller writing, Small Town Sins is smart, compelling and, by turns, harrowing and heartfelt. Under the author’s deft touch, the plots of the novel speed relentlessly from first page to last, through a Rust-Belt America so perfectly realized that we feel we’re there in person. And what an unforgettable trio of protagonists! Given Jaworowski’s masterful stylistic voice, you will hardly believe this is a debut novel. Bravo!”
—Jeffery Deaver, author of The Bone Collector and Hunting Time
“Small Town Sins is full of surprises and moves like a bullet train. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Fans of A Simple Plan and other rural noirs are sure to savor this dark and twisted thriller. I’m excited to read whatever Ken Jaworowski writes next.”
—Jason Rekulak, author of Hidden Pictures
“A stunning novel. Think Peter Dexter blended with James Sallis. It is that good and beautifully written. The sort of novel where you want to underline whole passages. I’m going to be pressing this book on those I care about. It restored my joy in the mystery genre.”
—Ken Bruen, author of The Guards
“A compulsively readable first novel that offers a very quirky look at downtrodden suburban life. Sad, seedy, horrific, humorous, and hopeful, this book is a tremendous debut.”
—Fabian Nicieza, co-creator of Deadpool and author of The Self-Made Widow
"Poignant . . . evocative. . . . Jaworowski weaves these characters’ stories with believable action, keeping in mind their desire to be more than ordinary while the threat of violence lingers in the background. . . . Jaworowski’s approach to storytelling will make readers eager for his next outing."
—Oline Cogdill, The Sun Sentinel