The setting: late eighteenth century. The players: three men moving through a violent and unforgiving world, two looking for earthly revenge, one the self-appointed hand of God. The stakes: a quest to understand man’s place in the world and how the power of belief—and a single act or decision—can set the course of one’s life.
Young Josiah Fuller’s life is irrevocably altered when, upon returning home from a multi-day hunting trip, he finds his parents have been brutally murdered. Not content simply to kill, whoever was responsible tortured the Fullers before stringing them up from a tree and burning down the homestead.
Josiah makes a vow to avenge their murders, and sets out on a quest to track and find the person(s) responsible. Along the way, he is forced through his interactions with the people he encounters to deeply examine his life, and to ask the question whether trading his eternal soul for the satisfaction of earthly vengeance is something he’s truly prepared to do.
William Corvin was once a man of violence, but has reformed his life and now oversees his family’s coal mine. When a random encounter with two drifters visits violence upon Corvin’s pregnant wife, like young Josiah, Corvin is forced to confront the question of whether slipping back into his old skin is worth the loss of his peaceful, hard fought for new life.
A man known as The Rider is the thread that weaves the entire tapestry together. Long ago he had a vision, one in which he was tasked with the mission of exacting the Lord’s vengeance on those unfortunate enough to cross his path whom he believes to have sinned against God. The Rider is utterly without pity for those he judges and finds lacking, and before the story’s over each of the players involved will have to confront what he stands for and find out how they measure up.
In a time and place where people are forced to live hard, often violent lives, debut author Brandon Daily explores the concept of whether man is in an almost no-win situation, life’s circumstances damn-near necessitating for survival’s sake that he engage in acts at odds with living a godly life. Is man simply too fragile, his conviction and faith too weak, to overcome his earthly plight? On the other hand, Daily does not let God off the hook either, questioning what kind of god would saddle man with such brutal lives and faith-crushing burdens and still expect them to walk a righteous path.
Make no mistake about it, A Murder Country is not light reading. Writing with a self-confidence it usually takes authors getting several books under their belts to muster, Daily jumps into the deep end with gusto and spins an engrossing yarn that elevates what could otherwise have been a run-of-the-mill, historically set tale of vengeance to one rich with philosophical and spiritual implications. It’s a challenging read, but one you’ll relish both while in it and for some time after.
A Murder Country is available from Knox Robinson (ISBN: 978-1908483676).