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Jay Porter, the newest employee at NorthEastern Insurance in New Hampshire, is investigating an accident claim when he learns the teenager behind the wheel was arrested for minor drug possession and sentenced to a hardcore behavioral modification center. At the county courthouse, Jay meets Nicki, a young college intern, who tips him off to a possible scandal—first-time juvenile offenders being shipped to private institutions for political kickbacks. He learns that long-time family nemeses, Adam and Michael Lombardi, may have a stake in the scheme. Is Jay’s mission to help these kids a legitimate crusade? Or is his thirst for revenge driven by the guilt he feels over his own junkie brother’s death? These questions conspire to tear apart tranquility and drive a wedge between Jay and his wife Jenny. With help from new friend Nicki, and a couple of old friends, Jay finds himself thrust back into a past he had hoped to leave behind, putting everything—and everyone he loves—at risk in pursuit of the truth.
"Fine writing, plus an interesting mix of people and a truly offbeat, if arguably rude, hero." — Booklist
"Clifford has written a very human tale of redemption.” — Publishers Weekly
“December Boys is full of thrills and suspense.” — Book Loons
"December Boys" is a deftly crafted and compelling read from beginning to end.” — Midwest Book Review
“Taut, breathless, stark and powerful, December Boys yanks you along like a raft on a whitewater river, buffeting your senses and emotions and putting you inside the head of Jay Porter, a man tortured by both past and present, seemingly bent on self-destruction but somehow still trying to find a way to hold onto the good things in his life and to find a peace he can handle.” — Sara J. Henry, award-winning author of A Cold and Lonely Place
“December Boys is more than great noir, or great crime fiction—it's great fiction, period. Spare and gritty, Joe Clifford's depiction of America’s seedy underbelly combines razor-sharp dialogue with a compelling story and nakedly honest characters. Clifford's work resembles the best of the late Tom Piccirilli—unflinching and brutal one moment, lyrical and thought-provoking the next. Do yourself a favor: check out December Boys and see if you don't agree.” — Allan Leverone, New York Times best-selling author of the Tracie Tanner Thriller Series
“Clifford's writing is lean, like a prizefighter, except instead of only hitting you (it does that too), December Boys is willing to be vulnerable, beautiful. Sure, there's muscle and brawn, but it's that tangle of tenderness, elevating the prose to an emotional experience that stays with you long after you flip the final page.” — Joshua Mohr, author of All This Life
“Joe Clifford’s December Boys is a riveting, muscular, powerfully written novel that reminds me of the early works of Russell Banks. Jay Porter is a richly detailed character whose tenacity, haunted past, dead end job, and difficult marriage give him a dimensionality and authenticity that is quite rare in contemporary crime fiction. Though the odds against Jay are overwhelming, with savvy, a burning drive and devoted friends, Jay confronts head-on some of the iciest bad guys you’ll ever meet. Joe Clifford is the real deal.” — James W. Hall, Edgar and Shamus Award-winning author of The Big Finish
“One of the best follow-ups I’ve read” — Shotgun Honey
“Jay Porter is a character who will break your heart, and Joe Clifford a writer capable of doing the same. Along the way, he'll also thrill you, make you angry, and cause you to cheer. No mean trio to pull off. December Boys is a timely, topical tale of broken people who come back swinging, achieving the kind of partial triumphs and halfway heartaches only real life—and the best writing—can depict.” — Jenny Milchman, USA Today bestselling and Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of As Night Falls