What an entertaining novel! It has quirky characters, great action, and the promise of new life for a compassionate crook.
We meet Rowdy as he is escaping from a bank heist. He's back from WW II and like hundreds, thousands of men, can't find a job. He needed money and his old buddy talked him into the deed. He and his partner run for it and are separated. Rowdy jumps in the river, nearly drowns, but makes it out alive. He has the money sack and after great thought, decides to return the money.
And that is where the story takes an interesting turn. The sheriff of Cut Eye, Texas is in a pickle. The town needs a preacher and Rowdy needs to be in the good graces of the lawman. He agrees to be a preacher for a year and in return, he won't be arrested.
And therein lies the story. Rowdy, a tough guy with a heart of gold, becomes a preacher. But life is not all Bibles and pew benches. His old partner in crime comes back and demands money. Rowdy is in a heap trouble.
There's much more to the story, including a young woman who had been filling in at the church. Daughter of the sheriff, she quotes poetry and at times tries to write some. She tells Rowdy what his duties will be. Some people think preachers work only one day a week but her list of duties sets him straight. There's humor there and other places too.
Brotherton has woven spiritual insights into the story. Rowdy at one point finds a note pinned to his door. Some church goer is angry with him because he had them sing all the verses of a hymn. They had always left out the third verse. If he didn't want to get people angry, he'd better do it like they've always done.
And then there was the evangelistic method Rowdy used in the bar. He convinced the hard boiled factory workers of he could beat them up, they'd agree to come to church.
As good as the story and the humor are, there is a river of heartwarming love that flows through the novel. The people in the Cut Eye church are not perfect, but then, neither is Rowdy. He comes to really care for them, even the quirky ones, the crazy ones.
The message is clear. Can a man really change?
This is a great book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is very well written. I loved the characters. They were so well crafted, fitting exactly into the plot. While the story takes place just after the end of WW II, it has truth for today. This is an enjoyable novel. I highly recommend it.
Marcus Brotherton is a journalist and professional writer, the author or coauthor of more than twenty five books. Many of his books center on WW II veterans and what they experienced upon their return from war. He has a bachelor's degree from Multnomah and a master's degree from Talbot Seminary. He served as a pastor in rural areas for nearly a decade before returning to writing full time. He and his family live in Bellingham, Washington. Find out more at www.marcusbrotherton.com.
Moody Publishers, 288 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.