“A man with no purpose is a man who don’t last long in this world.”
The author of Feast for Thieves, Marcus Brotherton, is a well known non-fiction writer (the New York Times bestselling kind), so the question of whether he can write isn’t necessary to ask. And while there can be writers who can’t quite make the switch to fiction after writing non-fiction for so long, there’s no need to worry about that with Brotherton’s debut fiction.
Sergeant Rowdy Slater is the most skilled-and most incorrigible-soldier in Dog Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne, an elite group of paratroopers fighting for the world’s freedom in World War II.
Through a bizarre set of circumstances, Rowdy returns to the States after the war, turns his life around, and falls into the only job he can find-preacher at the sparsely populated community church in Cut Eye, Texas, a dusty highway town situated at the midpoint of nowhere and emptiness.
The town’s lawman, suspicious that Rowdy has changed his ways only as a cover up, gives an ultimatum: Rowdy must survive one complete year as Cut Eye’s new minister or end up in jail.
At first Rowdy thinks the job will be easy, particularly because he’s taking over for a young female missionary who’s held the church together while the men were at war. But when a dark-hearted acquaintance from Rowdy’s past shows up with a plan to make some quick cash, Rowdy becomes ensnared due to an irrevocable favor, and life turns decidedly difficult.
Rowdy’s a man used to solving problems one of two ways: with his rifle or with his fists. Will he be able to thwart his old friend’s evil schemes while remaining true to his new higher calling?
This is a wild ride of a book bursting with a bank robbery, kidnapping, desperate prayers, and barroom brawls. Before the smoke clears, all sides just might end up getting exactly what they want.
The best way I can describe the vibe of the storytelling is a mix of Fried Green Tomatoes and Shawshank Redemption. Not the same story lines by any means, but the kind of story you know will be a good one. The kind you can sit back and enjoy any given day over and over again. The time period, the story and the characters are memorable and I became instant fan of this little town.
From the opening pages of Slater’s not so wise decisions, to the friendship formed with the sheriff, to colorful townsfolk, to what it looked like for many people after the war, to some classic church people (and their antics), even to some stories of love, I was drawn in and there were even several times I found myself laughing out loud. The more I think about it, the more I love Rowdy’s character – his road to redemption is such an honest one and I wish we could be friends in real life. Plus I loved how he saw people of Cut Eye. Just some good ol classic storytelling!
I will say this, when I read the last sentence in book, my thought was “WHAT IN THE WHA?! That better not be it! Y’all playin right?” They weren’t. That was the last page. So I have been telling myself there are more novels to come because I can’t bare to think the story is done. Trust me, when you read it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. (I should clarify! It isn’t a cliffhanger, just a wide open door for more tales of Rowdy and Cut Eye I hope to one day read :).
Have you read any post WWII novels? I think I might need to pick up some more – it’s such an interesting study to read the stories after the men and women return home.
(Thank you to River North & Side Door Communications for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)