Feast for Thieves
Moody/River North, Sep 1 2014, $14.99
In 1946 in Cut Eye, Texas WWII veteran Zearl “Rowdy” Slater and his partner Crazy Ake rob a bank. Deputies fire at them until the thieves jump into a river. Expecting to die, “incorrigible” Rowdy holds onto the sack of money while thinking back to a couple of years ago when he survived the Battle of The Bulge and the worst Belgium winter in three decades. Eight minutes and thirty eight seconds of counting Mississippi later, Rowdy hears a voice and almost immediately afterward a tree limb falls enabling him to escape the rushing water; Ake was nowhere in sight nor once on land was the voice.
Feeling a miracle saved him, Rowdy returns the stolen money to Sheriff Halligan Barker who consults with a mutual military acquaintance re Rowdy. Afterward Barker accuses Rowdy of stealing, but seeing an opportunity to save the dying town gives him a chance to redeem himself if he becomes the minister for one year in lieu of jail. Life as the town preacher proves byzantine while dealing with the conflicting demands of the flock and persuading the missionary Bobbie Barker he replaced that he changed. Ake’s arrival is just one more Job test that Rowdy assumes God dumped on his reformed soul.
In the author’s note, Marcus Brotherton informs readers that paratrooper Wayne “Skinny” Sisk (see Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose) was the inspiration for the enthralling antihero turned hero novel. Rowdy is a terrific lead who keeps the storyline focused while he poorly copes with one year preaching to sinners and believers, and falling in love with a saintly sassafras. His vernacular adds depth to a strong twisting post WWII drama.