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Daniel Woodrell was born in the Missouri Ozarks, where he still lives. He left school and enlisted in the Marines the week he turned seventeen, and received his BA at the age of twenty-seven. He also has an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He is the author of eight novels including Winter's Bone, the film of which was nominated for four Oscars in 2011, Woe to Live On, the basis for the film Ride with the Devil directed by Ang Lee, and Tomato Red, which won the PEN West Award for fiction in 1999. Five of his novels have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the year. His most recent book was the story collection The Outlaw Album, published by Sceptre in 2011.
In 1929, an explosion in a Missouri dance hall killed forty-two people. Who was to blame? Mobsters from St Louis? Embittered gypsies? The preacher who cursed the waltzing couples for their sins? Or could it just have been a colossal accident? Alma Dunahew, whose scandalous younger sister was among the dead, believes the answer lies in a dangerous love affair, but no one will listen to a maid from the wrong side of the tracks. It is only decades later that her grandson hears her version of events - and must decide if it is the right one.