Stella Hardesty is a cranky, menopausal woman with a weight problem and a love for Johnny Walker Black Label. She's also a killer, having dispatched her violent husband via a heavy wrench. Miraculously escaping a prison sentence, Stella spends her free time "counseling" abusive men by tying them up with restraints ordered from an online bondage site, breaking their fingers and other offending appendages, then promising that a second offense will result in a shotgun to the privates. Recognizing the law's limitations regarding serial batterers, "Goat," the county sheriff, normally turns a blind eye to Stella's fevered vigilantism; but when the abusive Roy Dean kidnaps Tucker, the two-year old son of Dean's beaten-down wife, Goat finds himself unwillingly drawn with Stella into a case that might include organized crime.
Stella is obviously nuts, but the town's women love her. You will, too, in this wickedly funny book, especially during the passages where author Littlefield lovingly describes the mayhem Stella inflicts on pond-scum men. What's not to love? A one-woman vengeance committee, Stella oozes charm even as she brandishes guns, knives, pliers, and other instruments of torture. The dialogue is such dead-on Missouri that I'd almost swear Littlefield taped conversations between my rural Missouri kin. Violent, compassionate, and laugh-out-loud funny, this first novel is utterly unique, a can't-put-it-downer narrated in a brilliant, bristly voice. In an interview, Littlefield once disclosed that she'd written several unpublished novels, all rejected because their heroines were considered "too bland." Well, she's vanquished blandness here.