NESTLED AMONG THE ROLLING HILLS AND FORESTS OF UPSTATE PENNSYLVANIA, RAND FARM has belonged to the family since a predatory Henry Rand purchased its sixty acres in the 1960s, and began to sow his insidious seeds into its soil.
Henry nurtured his crops, his family and his dark secret before falling to a brutal death down the farm cellar’s stone staircase one frozen Christmas Eve.
Following in his father’s footsteps, son Jack inherits the farm and yields to a familial compunction to keep working its land.
But continuing to reap Henry’s crops year after year while trying to provide for his wife, Patty, and their son, Sullivan eats at Jack’s soul, mirroring an ongoing decline of the farm’s increasingly desolate fields and barns as they become reclaimed by nature.
As Jack’s efforts to keep his internal rage, guilt and shame buried under Rand Farm, Jack skulks its acres alone. Turns to alcohol. Becomes prone to violent outbursts of temper.
But quiet, unassuming Sullivan, obsessed with Children’s book character Simon the Serpent, may just be the most dangerous Rand of them all, and Sullivan has his own stash of secrets in the farm cellar.
Secrets that he shares with Simon.
Secrets that bleed . . .
In his debut novel, LJ Denholm asks what drives man to commit his darkest acts; nature or nurture . . . Or a combination of the two?