Cover image for A single shot
A single shot
Jones, Matthew F.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1996.
Physical Description:
247 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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John Moon lives alone in a trailer on the land that was his family's farm until the bank foreclosed on it years ago (for reasons he has never fully understood). His wife has just left him, taking their infant son with her, and John must support himself with odd jobs and poaching game on a neighbor's land. Out hunting deer one morning, he hears the rustle of branches and fires a single shot--only to discover that he has killed a teenage girl.Horrified, Moon tries to cover up his tragic mistake and then to find out who the girl was and what she was doing in the woods. Fear, guilt, and obsession leads him to unearth a shocking pattern of evil involving the residents of the town--and before long all the plots have converged on him. Rich with regional echoes and raw emotion, A Single Shot is that rare thriller that not only makes the spine tingle, it stirs the heart as well.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

John Moon lives in a trailer on the land that was once part of his family's farm until his father lost the land to foreclosure. All John has ever wanted to do is farm, but instead, he drifts from job to job. His wife has left him and moved to town, taking their young son. One day, out poaching, he accidentally shoots and kills a teenage girl. Nearby, in a lean-to, he discovers a sleeping bag, a few items of clothing that belonged to the dead girl, and a large sum of cash. Partly because he cannot accept what he has done and partly because he is afraid no one will believe the shooting was an accident, he wraps the girl in the sleeping bag and leaves her in a cave. But that single shot in the woods has completely changed his life. He can't get away from the girl, not from the knowledge of what he did to her, or even from her remains, since her corpse ends up in his freezer. Intense, violent, and graphic, this novel of backwoods mayhem may remind some readers of Deliverance. --Mary Ellen Quinn

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a starred review, PW called this story of accidental death in the Blue Ridge Mountains a "gritty, claustrophobic blend of Jim Thompson and James Dickey." (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Abandoned by his wife and young son, John Moon sits in his trailer on the mountainside, feeling abused by the world. All he has left is an acre-and-a-half of the family farm, and he makes do with odd jobs and poaching game off state land. One morning he goes hunting a deer out of season and winds up killing a young runaway instead. In trying to hide the evidence of his accidental crime, Moon finds a huge sum of money, plus evidence that the young girl was not alone. Will Moon's crime be discovered? What will be the consequences for him and his family? The action in the novel takes place in the span of just seven days, and Moon's inevitable mental deterioration in the face of his horrible crime lends force to the narrative. Jones (The Elements of Hitting, LJ 3/1/94) has fashioned a compelling and readable story of one man's struggle with enormous guilt and his inability to make things go right in a world determined to make him fail. The mood is bleak, and the ending poetically just. This is not a comfortable novel to read, but it is a powerful one that deserves a wide readership. Highly recommended for all fiction collections.-Dean James, Houston Acad. of Medicine/Texas Medical Ctr. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.