The World Beneath

“In fetchingly spare prose, Aaron Gwyn reminds us afresh that what lies beneath is the past—those long-over dreams and deeds that rise up to haunt and harrow as we blunder through the present. The World Beneath is a page-turner of the highest order, the world above crosswise with rue and regret, its character beleaguered by the timeless mysteries of hope and fear. From page one on, this is a novel that comes at you like the modern devils Conrad warned us to watch for.”—Lee K. Abbott

“Aaron Gwyn’s debut novel is a chilling literary thriller in the vein of Cormac McCarthy and Denis Johnson. Set in the flatlands of small town Oklahoma, The World Beneath chronicles Sheriff Martin’s obsession with tracking down a missing fifteen-year-old named J.T. and juxtaposes it with the story of Hickson Crider, a Gulf War veteran who discovers a mysterious hole in his back yard. Gwyn wisely seeds the novel with supernatural elements that help the book transcend the limitations of the mystery genre….His sentences are muscular, and his plotting is almost pitch perfect.”—Salvatore Pane, Bomb Magazine

“Mixing reality, otherworldliness, and Native American folklore, Gwyn has woven an eerie and affecting story of tragedy, trauma, and destiny….A fine successor to Dog on the Cross.”—Thomas Gaughan, Booklist

“Aaron Gwyn has written a quiet knockout of a novel that plumbs the literal depths of the earth as it plumbs the moral depths of men’s souls. This novel is ‘old fashioned’ in the very best way—real human characters occupy a fully realized world full of themes that actually carry weight and meaning. Readers everywhere should pick this up, and fall right in.”—Brad Barkley

“I just finished Aaron Gwyn’s The World Beneath, and now I need to recover. Here is a book that will haunt my dreams and my days. One day a talented and troubled fifteen-year-old half-Chickasaw boy goes missing, vanished from the face of the earth, and now it’s Sheriff Jerry Martin’s job to find him. The job soon becomes an obsession. Set in hardscrabble rural Oklahoma, The World Beneath is at once a confounding and chilling literary mystery and an unsettling and unrelenting exploration of men whose lives are haunted and shaped by loss. It’ll leave you breathless.”—John Defresne

The World Beneath is a dazzling murder mystery, fast paced and fully realized. Some authors focus on character, others on story, but Aaron Gwyn does it all. A fully fleshed, intelligent, literary thriller that moves, this is a book that sacrifices nothing.”—Stephen Elliott