Desperate times call for desperate measures in Kalteis’s lightning fast crime caper story
Sonny and Clara Myers struggle on their Kansas farm in the late 1930s, a time the Lord gave up on: their land’s gone dry, barren, and worthless; the bankers are greedy and hungry, trying to squeeze them and other farmers out of their homes; and, on top of that, their marriage is in trouble. The couple can struggle and wither along with the land or surrender to the bankers and hightail it to California like most of the others. Clara is all for leaving, but Sonny refuses to abandon the family farm.
In a fit of temper, she takes off westward in their old battered truck. Alone on the farm and determined to get back Clara and the good old days, Sonny comes up with an idea, a way to keep his land and even prosper while giving the banks a taste of their own misery. He sets the scheme in motion under the cover of the commotion being caused by a rainmaker hired by the mayor to call down the thunder and wash away everyone’s troubles.
Set in Depression-era Kansas, this colorful, character-driven crime novel from Kalteis (Zero Avenue) pits desperate small-town folk against racists and thugs. Life is looking bleak for farmer Sonny Myers his wife, Clara, has run off with the last of their savings, the farm isn't producing anything, and the bank is repossessing everything purchased with his mortgage. His friend Handy Phibbs has suggested robbing the local bank, with Willis Taggart, the owner of Happy Mustard's, a failing traveling show, as their driver. Willis also has a loan shark and his goons to deal with, while Handy and Sonny have had run-ins with the White Knights of the Great Plains, a hood-wearing, cross-burning group of hate mongers. Clara returns in the company of Eugene Cobb, a self-declared rainmaker, in time to inadvertently help Sonny, Handy, and Willis pull off the bank heist. Kalteis does a fine job of scene setting; the reader can practically smell the horehound candy at the general store and feel the grit in the air at Sonny's farm. Fans of historical crime fiction won't want to miss this one.