…of Jack Todd? He is the author of the novels Sun Going Down and Come Again No More and the memoir Desertion, which won the Quebec Writer’s Federation First Book Prize and the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction. Todd’s epic stories of the American West show his characters embedded in historical events, struggling to survive in a land they love, and wrestling with their own passions and demons. He has the ability to zero in on his characters’ intimate emotional lives while simultaneously painting a sweeping picture of the historical events that shape their destinies.
Why am I telling you all this? Because Jack Todd is a fantastic author and he has a new book coming out on November 8th, Rain Falls Like Mercy.
In the tradition of true crime narratives such as In Cold Blood, acclaimed author Jack Todd’s new novel grips the reader from the first page; and as it spans continents and generations of one family, its taut and shocking undercurrent of violence builds to a stunning crescendo.
As Rain Falls Like Mercy opens in May of 1941, a young girl fleeing an abusive stepfather is seen leaving a Wyoming bus station with a strange man. When a Choctaw ranch foreman finds her body in an isolated sheep herder’s shack, a manhunt begins. Tom Call, the young sheriff running the murder investigation, falls in love with Juanita, the neglected wife of the rancher Eli Paint. In Hawaii, Eli’s son Leo and his grandson Bobby Watson are on duty with the U.S. Navy. In Casper, Big Bill Bury, the tyrannical billionaire oilman and rancher, shows his disgust with his sons Lon and Pardo by sending them on a dangerous errand to collect a gambling debt in Texas.
With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, all these lives are disrupted in various ways. The individual, localized savagery of a brutal murder give way to the mass savagery of war. After Tom Call leaves Juanita to fly B-17 bombers for the Air Force, Juanita learns that she is pregnant. Bobby Watson mans an antiaircraft gun during the attack and his sister Emaline waits for weeks to learn his fate. From his air base in England, Tom tries to pursue his murder investigation. His suspicion has fallen on Pardo Bury, Bill Bury’s younger son, but Pardo is in a Texas prison, serving a sentence for slashing a young prostitute.
The war ends and Pardo is released from prison, touching off a killing rampage. On his way north in 1946, Pardo picks up a teenaged girl named Arlie Swain. The two of them — archetypal, footloose American killers based loosely on Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate — head to Wyoming and a final, apocalyptic showdown with Tom Call.
Set against the sweeping backdrop of World War II, Rain Falls Like Mercy is a gripping depiction of a family and a country touched by the grand violence of war, the senseless violence of crime, and the intimate violence of the heart.
Advance praise is in, read on below:
“Todd masterfully captures both the larger historical moment and the more intimate details of family life.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Powerful…Todd’s vivid language is perfectly suited to the epic sweep of his narrative.” —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“Todd’s writing is exceptional and vivid…A brilliant, compelling…and highly readable novel.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Jack talks about the inspiration behind his books:
Visit Jack Todd online www.jacktoddtheauthor.com