Gift Guide

A Single Shot

( 4 )


After the loss of his family farm, John Moon is a desperate man. A master hunter, his ability to poach game in-season or out is the only thing that stands between him and the soup kitchen line. Until Moon trespasses on the wrong land, hears a rustle in the brush, and fires a single fateful shot.

Following the bloody trail, he comes upon a shocking scene: an illegal, deep woods campground filled with drugs, bundles of cash and the body of a dead...

See more details below
$13.11 price
(Save 12%)$14.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (46) from $1.99   
  • New (10) from $1.99   
  • Used (36) from $1.99   
A Single Shot

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99 price


After the loss of his family farm, John Moon is a desperate man. A master hunter, his ability to poach game in-season or out is the only thing that stands between him and the soup kitchen line. Until Moon trespasses on the wrong land, hears a rustle in the brush, and fires a single fateful shot.

Following the bloody trail, he comes upon a shocking scene: an illegal, deep woods campground filled with drugs, bundles of cash and the body of a dead young woman, killed by Moon's stray bullet.

Faced with an ultimate dilemma, Moon has to make a choice: does he take the money and ignore his responsibility for the girl's death? Or confess?

But before he has a chance to decide, Moon finds himself on the run, pursued by those who think the money is theirs. Men who don't care about right and wrong and who want only one thing from John Moon: his body, face down in a ditch.

Matthew F. Jones' A Single Shot is a rare, visionary thriller reminiscent of the work of Tom Franklin, Ron Rash, Daniel Woodrell, and Cormac McCarthy.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

People Magazine
A backwoods drama that is part Crime and Punishment, part Deliverance, and all white-knuckled packs a helluva punch.
Daniel Woodrell
"One of the finest novels of rural crime and moral horror in the past few decades."
From the Publisher
"One of the finest novels of rural crime and moral horror in the past few decades."—Daniel Woodrell

"A backwoods drama that is part Crime and Punishment, part Deliverance, and all white-knuckled packs a helluva punch."—People

"A harrowing literary thriller....a powerful blend of love and violence, of the grotesque and the tender."—The New York Times

"A terrific can hardly breathe while you're reading this book....his crisis evokes every palm-sweating, heart-stopping, seemingly undoable mistake you've ever made."—Los Angeles Times

"Jones owns a fine writer's eye for the kind of details that matter."—The Washington Post

Los Angeles Times
"A terrific can hardly breathe while you're reading this book....his crisis evokes every palm-sweating, heart-stopping, seemingly undoable mistake you've ever made."

"A backwoods drama that is part Crime and Punishment, part Deliverance, and all white-knuckled packs a helluva punch."
The New York Times

"A harrowing literary thriller....a powerful blend of love and violence, of the grotesque and the tender."
The Washington Post
"Jones owns a fine writer's eye for the kind of details that matter."
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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)
Library Journal
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.
Kirkus Reviews
Backwoods blood and gore from the author whose previous expeditions into the grotesque (The Cooter Farm, 1991; The Elements of Hitting, 1994) have shown just how far we can go down Tobacco Road.

John Moon is the sort of country boy who makes his living by killing things in the forest. Unhappily divorced from a wife who looks upon him as no-account trash, he sets out at the beginning of the story to patch things up by poaching a deer for her, but he accidentally shoots a young girl instead. This is his first mistake, and even John can see that it's a big one. "He thinks of the hundreds of animals he has shot, gutted, and cut into strips of meat. . . . Blood is blood, he thinks, wiping the girl's on his pants. And dead is dead." What to do? Well, of course the police are out of the question, so John very sensibly locks the girl's corpse in his freezer along with his venison steaks and tries to go on as before. Unfortunately, however, the girl had a very mean boyfriend who deals drugs and just happens to be an old prison friend of one of John's neighbors. John's attorney, Daggard Pitt, suspects that something is up, but John can't quite bring himself to trust the lawyer (he used to work for the bank that foreclosed on his parents' farm), and he manages to dig himself a very deep hole in short order. There's a climactic bloodbath, and along the way we're treated to a fair amount of sleazy hillbilly sex, but this is nevertheless a story aiming to be about moral regeneration, written in the most tragic Faulknerian mode. The tragedy here, though, seems merely to degrade with an even hand, and it's not at all clear at the end that anyone has truly been saved.

Powerfully written but ultimately empty.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316196703
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 9/19/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,437,703
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew F. Jones is also the author of the critically acclaimed novels Boot Tracks, Deepwater, The Elements of Hitting, Blind Pursuit and The Cooter Farm, as well as a number of screenplays, including adaptations of A Single Shot and Boot Tracks, both which are being filmed in 2011. Deepwater was made into a film in 2005. He grew up in rural upstate New York and lives now in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

A Single Shot

By Matthew F Jones, Daniel Woodrell

Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2013 Matthew F Jones Daniel Woodrell
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-316-19670-3



Before the sun is up, John Moon has showered, drunk two cups of coffee, and changed into his blue jeans, sweatshirt, and Timberland hiking boots. He has eaten two pieces of toast, a bowl of cereal, and put out food for his wandering dog. Before leaving the trailer by the front door, he gets his 12-gauge shotgun and a handful of slugs from the gun cabinet off the kitchen.

The grass is damp with dew and the early-June air is heavy and already warm, promising it will be hot within a few hours. A mourning dove is cooing in a tree somewhere to John's left. Down the road, past the treeline, he hears the gentle clanging of cowbells and the lowing of Cecil Nobie's herd on its way from the pasture to Nobie's barn to be milked. The sun is just starting to peek out over the crest of the mountain directly east of the one John lives two-thirds to the top of.

Gazing down at the converging roads winding like miles of dusty brown carpet through the hollow below him, John sees a set of headlights descending the right fork, piercing the three-quarters dark. He thinks this strange since only he and the Nobies live on the right fork and unless there'd been an accident at Nobies', in which case someone from there would likely have called John, none of them would be driving into town at four-thirty in the morning. John wonders if the vehicle might belong to a conservation officer, then decides he's being paranoid. No green cap is going to get up before dawn to search for would-be poachers. Thinking two teenagers must have fallen asleep parking the night before, John shrugs, then starts walking up the mountain.

He hikes five hundred yards or so up to the road's end, then turns right and heads on a narrow path into a forest of pine trees on the state preserve. There's no wind and it's so quiet in the forest that, even on a soft bed of pine needles, John's footsteps echo in his ears as if he is treading on snow. Every few steps, he stops, listens for several seconds, then, not hearing anything, moves on. He is looking for a ten-point buck he has seen three times in the last week, most recently on the previous afternoon from his back porch, where, through binoculars, he watched it graze for several minutes at the edge of the preserve before it loped into the pines. John has figured the buck has a bed somewhere in the pines. He has balanced in his mind the value of a hundred fifty pounds of dressed venison versus the thousand dollars in fines and possible two months' jail time it would cost him in the unlikely event that he is caught shooting the deer out of season on state land, and has decided the risk is worth it.

As he approaches the far edge of the pines after which the forest turns denser with deciduous trees and brush, in the canopy of pine boughs a crow starts cawing. Several others join in. His senses suddenly heightened, John cocks the shotgun. The sharp click of the engaging mechanism increases the crows' agitation. A squirrel or a chipmunk jumps from one tree to another above him. A pinecone drops near his feet. Several smaller birds—sparrows or swallows—take flight, slicing through the still air, before landing again.

Sensing the presence of a large animal besides himself, John cradles the gun in two hands and starts slowly walking toward the pines' edge, where the half-risen sun gives the trees' upper branches a bejeweled look. A branch suddenly snaps to his left. Then a sound like rushing water. In one motion, John wheels toward the noise, puts the butt of the shotgun to his shoulder, flicks off the safety, and aims at a bouncing tree limb. Just beyond the limb, he sees a tan-and-white flank disappearing into a patch of thistles and, above the thistles, a large rack of antlers. John fires. He hears the buck snort, sees the antlers tilt to the right, below the level of the bushes, then rise up again, and, as he recocks the shotgun, the deer shoot out the other side of the thistles, beyond his range, and disappear.

John pushes the safety in and runs toward the thistles, but before he gets there, he stops next to a large oblong-shaped indentation in the pine needles. He kneels down, touches with his fingers the center of the spot, feels the warmth left from the sleeping deer, even sees some of its coat lying there. He feels his heart loudly thumping in his chest, air rushing in and out of his nostrils, beads of sweat rolling down from his armpits. And he can smell the buck, the adrenal surge it's released, like John's own, pungent and harsh.

Holding the gun in one hand, he trots a half circle to the left of the thistles, doubles back on the far side, stops near where the deer came out, squats down, and sees several fresh drops of blood on the ground. So, it was wounded—probably in the right rear flank, given the way it had pitched forward—and is heading deeper into the woods, through thick underbrush and rough terrain, hoping to tire its pursuer out.

John had hoped to down the deer with one bullet, then drag it quickly back to the trailer, afraid that a gunshot, even at this early hour and distance from town, might be overheard by someone—maybe a hiker in the preserve—and rouse suspicion. Now that he has wounded the animal, though, he has no choice but to pursue it. He can't just let it limp off somewhere and die slowly.

He follows the trail of blood down the east side of the mountain on a zigzagging course through a stand of white oak undergrown with witch hazel, sumac, mountain laurel, and nettles that tear at his pants and shirt and painfully rake his face, until, after several hundred yards, the brush thins out and is interlarded with moss-slick rocks and vine-covered boulders. Here the buck has headed north, along a narrow ridge parallel to one fork of the hollow road a half mile below. For a few seconds, John hears in front of him the sound of the deer's hooves clattering noisily against the rocks. It's bleeding thin, sporadic drops, and John fears it might be a while before it gives out.

Winded, he stops for a short blow, looking east where the sun, now completely up, casts a gold trail from the far mountain to the near. A hawk circles over Cecil Nobie's red house and barn, which look doll-sized from this height. The day vows to be perfect, if a little hot, but John doesn't mind hot. He likes to sweat. Taking a deep breath of the warming air, he starts again after the deer.

After nearly an hour more of bushwhacking, he comes to a dry creek bed, crosses it, then follows the deer where it has veered right, up the hill again, toward the west boundary of the preserve. A steep half-hour climb through raspberry bushes and over clear-cut maples and white pine that have been sawed and left by the state brings him finally onto the back side of Hollenbachs' mountain, where Old Man Hollenbach a dozen years before grazed heifers and sheep. Now the old pasture's a maze of crab-apple trees, chokecherries, Scotch pine, and brambles, but at least the terrain levels out.

Breathing heavily, John stops next to a thorn-apple tree where the deer must have rubbed its wound because the trunk is marred by blood, and from there the trail gets redder. From the way the grass and bushes are bent above the blood, John guesses the buck is dragging one leg. He thinks it can't last much longer, and, not for the first time, he worries about how he's going to lug a two- hundred-pound carcass all those miles back to his house. Maybe he can get Simon Breedlove to help by giving him some of the meat. He worries, too, that the farther he has to cart the deer, the more chance he has of stumbling across someone else.

Wiping his brow, he starts across the pasture. It's not even nine o'clock and already the temperature feels like it's gone up twenty degrees. John's clothes are soaked with sweat and he's thirsty enough to wring them out and drink it. A hundred yards ahead, at the pasture's edge, he sees the deep grass swaying back and forth. He guesses it's the deer, but can't see it to shoot, then suddenly the buck stumbles out of the grass onto the abandoned dirt road that winds up the northwest side of the mountain to Old Man Hollenbach's played-out stone quarry. It just stands there, sniffing the air around its knees, looking dazed and ready to cave in. John raises the shotgun to his shoulder but there's too many trees between him and the deer to get a clear shot off, and besides, he figures by now he can pretty much walk up and put the animal out of its misery. Then the buck lets out a loud snort and, dragging its hindquarters, moves off down the road toward the quarry.

John quietly curses, not because he's worried about losing the deer—unless it can scale rock walls, there's only one way in or out of the quarry—but because he's tired of chasing it and is sorry, too, that the buck has had to endure so much suffering. He hears a dog barking off somewhere and starts to worry again about being caught and wishes it were colder so that he could hide the carcass in the quarry out of sight from buzzards and coyotes and come back for it the next day before sunup. Then he decides maybe he ought to butcher the deer right there in the quarry—behind one of the slag heaps—and bring the meat home in two or three trips. A grouse suddenly breaks cover almost beneath his feet and the frantic beating of its wings nearly gives John a heart attack and he thinks, "Get this the hell over with."

When he reaches the road five minutes later, the deer is out of sight, but a trail of blood leads directly from there to the quarry, five hundred yards in the distance. The grass on the road looks slightly impacted to John and some of the smaller rocks freshly dislodged. He kneels down and takes a closer look, but can't tell whether the road has recently been driven on or only disrupted by the hailstorm two days before. "I'm goin' to go kill that deer," John tells himself, standing up and starting down the road in a nervous half-jog. "Take what meat I can easy carry, and clear out pronto."

A flock of blue jays suddenly flies up from the quarry and starts squawking, flat out scaring John until he remembers that right about then the deer, bleeding and snorting, had probably stumbled inside and startled the birds. Still, he can feel his heart pounding in his ears. Slowing to a walk, he raises the gun to his waist. He smells spruce, the trees lining both sides of the road. At the entrance to the quarry, a small canyon with fifty-foot granite walls, he reminds himself that the deer would be crazed enough to charge whatever gets too close, and could, with those antlers, do some damage.

He flicks off the shotgun's safety, then warily enters the canyon overgrown with briars, pine bushes, and crawling vines, stops just inside, looks around, and sees the same half-a-dozen slag heaps, junked truck chassis, gutted generator, plastic-covered lean-to, that have been there for years, and off to the right, the deep water-filled pit where John, as a boy, caught frogs, and behind it, the circular opening in the wall he had never dared enter, on one side of which stands a rusted shovel and pick.

John looks down for the deer's blood and at the same time hears to his left a grunt, then branches cracking. He shoulders the gun, wheels toward the sound, spots behind a briar thicket a moving patch of brown-and-white, aims at it, and fires. He figures he's hit the deer in the head or heart because, without a sound, it drops from sight as if its legs have been severed.

John levers out the spent shell. Dangling the shotgun in one hand, he starts walking toward the thicket, when suddenly a loud snort sounds directly behind him. He spins around and sees charging out from behind a slag heap, straight for him, the injured buck.

John doesn't even have time to cock or shoulder the gun before the deer is so close he can feel the phlegm flying from its flared nostrils and read the rage in its pain-maddened eyes.

Instinctively hop-stepping to his left, John grabs the rifle barrel with both hands, then swings it upward as hard as he can. With a loud crack, the butt connects with the deer's jaw a moment before its antlers pierce John's left shoulder. He goes down and the buck, standing above him, lowers its head as if to gore him, then suddenly lets out a pained bleat, starts to tremble as if it's been electrically shocked, and drops in a heap next to John.

He rolls to his right, slowly pushes himself with his hands into a squat, then stands. With the effort, the pain in his gored and bleeding shoulder doesn't increase or radiate. A good sign, thinks John. He extends his arm gradually forward and back, then gingerly loops it in a full circle, heartened that he has full motion in the joint.

At his feet, the deer suddenly twitches, its legs kicking out as if it will rise. Startled, John jumps back. Then the buck lies still. John sees it isn't going anywhere. His shotgun butt has crushed its jaw, forcing its teeth into a grotesque grin; its rear quarters are a mass of blood, thistle-matted fur, and exposed bone; it's exhaling as much fluid as oxygen; its eyes are clouded as though it's already in the afterlife. Looking down at the dying animal, John has the same sad feeling as he did watching his father doing likewise in a hospital bed fourteen years before.

He picks up his shotgun from the grass-and weed-covered gravel, starts to cock it, then, changing his mind, wraps both hands around the barrel, hoists the butt like a post-hole digger above the deer's head, and brings it forcefully down. The deer's skull collapses like a rotten vegetable. The buck groans once, for several seconds twitches again, then lies still. Placing the gun on the ground, John thinks it shouldn't have come to this. The buck should have died in the pines from a single shot.

He reaches up, pulls off his torn sweatshirt, wads it into a ball, then dabs with it at his injured shoulder until enough blood has been removed for him to see a jagged puncture wound, half an inch deep, oozing a slow, steady stream. He unwads the shirt, grips it at both sides of the tear, and rips it in two. He wraps one piece tight around his bicep, just above where he's bleeding, binding it with a square knot, and the other securely around the wound.

Fighting a sudden urge to turn and run from the quarry, he takes a deep breath and tries to calm the fluttery feeling in his stomach. He picks up the shotgun, wipes its butt on the grass, and closes its breech. He looks down once more at the deer, then over at the briars. Holding the gun ready at his side, he slowly walks the twenty-five yards over to the thicket, stops in front of it, and with the shotgun's barrel moves the forward branches aside. He tries to peer through the tangled thicket to the far side, but it's dense as a sponge, and he can't see anything but more branches and briars. Nor can he hear anything, not even the blue jays, which, oddly, have gone mute. "Whatever's there," thinks John, "is bad hurt or dead."

He remembers the flash of brown-and-white he saw, and the shovel and pick standing—not lying—by the hollowed-out spot in the wall behind him. He remembers reading in a book once about how lives are begun, altered, and wiped out in a second, and something else about people only coming to know themselves through tragedy. "Where did that thought come from?" he wonders. "And why? I'm a good hunter," he tells himself. "I followed a wounded, crazed deer into a box canyon, heard an animal grunt behind me, saw it move, then shot it."

He walks rapidly to the right of the patch, ten feet wide at least and almost that tall, and without hesitating rounds the corner. On the far side, on the ground five feet in front of him, he sees the worn bottoms of two sneakered feet, then blue-jean-covered legs, a slim torso adorned by an earth-stained, white T-shirt, and a dirty-blond clump of hair protruding from beneath a floppy brown hat. The body has a circular sweat spot on its lower back and lies facedown behind the brambles, arms thrown out in front of it toward a small denim satchel.

John is hit by a wave of nausea. Instinctively, he flicks on the shotgun's safety, drops the gun at his feet, runs up to the body, kneels next to it, places one hand on the white neck beneath the hair clump, and feels for a pulse. He doesn't find one. "Come on," he says aloud. He reaches his hands beneath the body's warm, damp stomach, then carefully rolls it over. He sees first, in the left center of the chest, the slug's gaping entry wound, then a woman with her eyes wide open. "Please, God," says John. "No."

Excerpted from A Single Shot by Matthew F Jones, Daniel Woodrell. Copyright © 2013 Matthew F Jones Daniel Woodrell. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2012

    This is as good as noir gets. A Dark, powerful, thriller with a

    This is as good as noir gets. A Dark, powerful, thriller with a story you won't be able to get out of your mind. John Moon - the novel's flawed but upright antihero - makes a split-second miscalculation that ends a girl's life and unleashes all manner of hell on his life - some self-inflicted and some inflicted by some of the most terrifying and believable bad guys you'll encounter in the literary world. A story both edge of your seat thrilling and poignant at the same time.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2012

    Interesting plotline, though the writing lost its voice sometimes - very MALE book

    I enjoyed the plot of this book a great deal, and also the main character. But the main character is a back-woods kind of redneck with a connection to nature, so while he can sense and admire the wonders of the universe, the author lost me when he used his own professorial descriptions instead of staying within the character's own voice. The story of the unravelling of a life after an accidental hunting accident was compelling, though none of the characters seemed that sympathetic. In the end, I didn't question the fate of any of the characters. Bloody, confusing, arousing book - should be a good movie!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)