James Lee Burke
Simon & Schuster, Jul 15 2014, $27.95
In 1934 at his Grandfather Hackberry Holland’s East Texas ranch teenager Weldon Avery Holland meets Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow and two other people just after the bank robbers flee from their latest armed theft. Their encounter ends with Holland attracted to Bonnie and his shooting at the four thieves driving away in their stolen vehicle.
A decade later at the Battle of the Bulge US Army Second Lieutenant Weldon Holland and Sergeant Hershel Pine are trapped behind enemy lines. They survive and find Spanish resistance soldier Rosita Lowenstein hiding in an abandoned extermination plant. When the war ends, Weldon and Lowenstein marry. They and Hershel return home to Texas where they open up Dixie Belle Pipeline Company based on Nazi technology and the latter weds Linda Gail. However, not all is smooth as unscrupulous investors using any means including amoral and illegal endeavors at their disposal want to control the successful firm and anti-Semites mount a malicious campaign to destroy Rosita.
Wayfaring Stranger is a superb mid-twentieth century historical that looks deeply at the ugly rapacious side of capitalism during an era of innocence in spite of the Depression and WWII; and realism that money flows up and sh*t trickles down. Character driven by a strong cast, readers will root for ethical Weldon as he and his loved ones confront morally-challenged marauders who hide behind laws that they established to enhance their money begets money avarice; summed up by Jesse Ventura when he was a wrestler: “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!”