Thanks to my lifelong interest and degree in history, I tend to be a real stickler for historical accuracy in books. One of my biggest pet peeves is reading a work of historical fiction and not being able to take it seriously because the author didn’t do enough research before writing the story, or changed the facts to fit the story instead of the other way around.
Marcus Brotherton’s first novel, Feast For Thieves, impressed me in a way few novels have been able to do. Marcus has written extensively about World War II in the non-fiction realm, and has done myriad research about the times and the men of the 1940s. The depth of his research is obvious while reading this book.
Feast for Thieves begins in the small Texas town of Cut Eye in 1946, when Rowdy Slater, a former paratrooper during the War, robs a bank with Rowdy’s old prison cellmate, Crazy Ake. After robbing the bank and becoming separated from Crazy Ake during a police chase, Rowdy gains a conscience and returns the money to the town of Cut Eye. Upon returning the loot, Sheriff Halligan Barker makes Rowdy a deal–either he can take up the empty position as Reverend at Cut Eye Community Church, or he can go straight to jail.
Rowdy knows nothing about being a preacher, but he genuinely wants to turn his life around, so he takes the job. He’s charged with the lofty task of turning the town around–the town that now spends more time in the saloon and brothel than at church. Rowdy must also become a man the town can look up to, trust, and ask guidance from, while just beginning to figure out what a relationship with God actually means.
We learn all the dirty secrets of the folks from Cut Eye in Feast of Thieves, and we learn about Rowdy’s past–why he wanted to rob the bank in the first place, what role his little niece plays in the ordeal, and why he wants to come clean and become an upstanding citizen. After getting into the routine of being Reverend Rowdy, Crazy Ake shows up again with a dangerous plan to make some fast money. Rowdy must make a decision. Has he truly changed, or will he always be a criminal?
Feast of Thieves was full of drama, suspense, some laughs, and even a bit of romance. I grew to love Rowdy and the rest of the characters, and I may or may not have talked in a Texas accent for a couple days after finishing the book. I also really appreciated how, at the end, the author includes some background for the novel, as well as real-life interview snippets of World War II vets while explaining Rowdy’s dialect and word choices throughout the book.
I highly recommend this novel, as it was well thought out and excellently executed. I felt like I was watching it as a movie in my mind, and everything in the book belonged in the book. There was no extra fluff, no unnecessary parts; every word had a purpose, and as a reader, I appreciate that. I really hope that this is only the first book in a series!
*I was provided a free copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All opinions are my own.