The Angels of Sinkhole County

When Roger Thorndike dies of old age at home in rural West Virginia, his private staff of caregivers are devastated. One of them, Loretta Hardwick, comes up with a plan to salve their broken hearts and save their jobs—in a place where jobs are scarce. They switch out the dead Major, his nickname among the staff, for his living double, a hermit mountain man who has also been under Loretta’s care. The ensuing deception of Major’s grown children—Hume, a veterinarian in nearby Powhatan County, and Ruth, an artist in New York City known to the caregivers as Ruthless—as well as nurses, doctors, a pastor, and an angry ex care manager, reveals class divisions, workplace rivalries, and moral dilemmas in a rollicking drama of rising tension and high stakes.

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“William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying meets Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead in Deborah Clearman’s new novel.”
—Ed Davis, author of The Psalms of Israel Jones
“Clearman has a sharp eye for detail, irony, and life as it’s lived. The novel’s unsentimental approach feels rooted not in mockery but in deep concern with the most dehumanizing aspects of the economic imperatives of American life.”
Publishers Weekly
“The stark impossibility of Loretta’s gambit is part of the book’s farcical strength. This is an impressively subtle novel—brimming with comedic sharpness, but also a sweet but unsentimental glimpse into the strange ways love expresses itself in the real world.”
Kirkus Reviews
“It’s a real roller-coaster of a ride, as the deception deepens and rivalries explode. Deborah Clearman’s writing is like a mountain stream—clear, swift, and bracing. As Willie sang, these angels may be ‘flying too close to the ground,’ but bedraggled wings might just keep them aloft.”
—Valerie Nieman, author of To the Bones
“A charming mix of angst, poverty, drugs, creative thinking, struggle, and love. The people fumble forward like Shakespearean lovers in an enchanted woods. Clearman’s ability to mix real life with high comedy and bring people together in a common if perhaps off-kilter purpose is deeply satisfying.”
—Meredith Sue Willis, author of Out of the Mountains
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