The Great Depression. Deep East Texas. The woods are thick, the rivers wild, the weather ripe with tornadoes, and the Crane family, like most families in that neck of the woods, are eking out a thin living. When young Harry Crane discovers a mutilated body bound to a tree with barbed wire in the river bottoms, the underbelly of East Texas is exposed. Whites fear a renegade Negro. Blacks fear a vengeful massacre or, if the killer is white, that the law will let him slip through their fingers. Harry believes the murderer is the Goat Man, an East Texas monster of legend who, like the Billy Goat Gruffs' troll, lurks in the shadows beneath the swinging bridge on the Sabine River. Harry is not only familiar with the legend, but he and his sister Thomasina (Tom) have actually seen the Goat Man, or something much like him, in his nocturnal haunts.
As the bodies mount up, an elderly black man is lynched, both blacks and whites are terrorized, and Harry's father -- the local law -- and grandmother investigate, searching for a killer who may be a lot closer than they think.
Not only a novel of riveting suspense, "The Bottoms" is a novel of a unique place and time. To Kill a Mockingbird meets The Grapes of Wrath meets Silence of the Lambs.