Sunday, September 22, 2013

Review: The Reckoning

By Bob Larranaga

A veteran of the Mexican-American War, Ed Canfield is a man with a secret and a dark past.  A sufferer of “soldier’s heart’ (what we know today as post traumatic stress disorder), he must battle with the demons of his past as the American Civil War breaks out around him.

Mr. Larranaga’s novel is set in the Florida Keys and centers around a trio of characters: the afore mentioned Ed Canfield; his estranged teenaged son, Jesse Beecham; and Maureen Foster, Ed’s love interest.  Abraham Lincoln has already been elected as President at the opening of the book; it is Secession Winter and both North and South are raising opposing armies for a war that both sides think will be short and victorious.  Jesse wants desperately to join the Confederate Army his mother, the former Mrs. Ed Canfield, sends him to Cedar Keys to live with his father.  When Ed picks him up he is seeing is son for the very first time; immediately the father-son conflict begins.

Ed owns a gum patch at Cedar Keys and manufactures turpentine among other nautical stores that could be of military value to either side of the war.  Caleb Foster is one of Ed’s more recently hired employees, and thus Ed becomes associated with his sister, Maureen.  Ed joins the local church choir just to get nearer to her, but as their relationship grows, hostilities erupt; Fort Sumter has fallen and the War is on.

While Ed and Jesse are fishing on their boat the “Dead Reckoning,” Cedar Keys is shelled by a gunboat, destroying the gum patch, Ed’s livelihood, and scattering its residents to the four winds.  Ed and Jesse discover a mysterious stow-away aboard the boat, and together the three of them set sail with what remains of Ed’s naval stores in search of Maureen and her family, during which time Ed must decide where his loyalties lie.  Ed and Jesse get more than what they bargained for when the real identity of their passenger is revealed and they find themselves in a race against time to save Maureen and some of the other residents of Cedar Keys from what is sure to be a certain death.

“The Reckoning,” is inspired by the pocket-sized journal that Mr. Larranaga’ great grandfather kept during the Civil War.  It is one part historical fiction and one part historical romance, but a bodice ripper it is not.  The old adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” holds true here.  In a glaring miscalculation of art design, book’s cover features a trio of a middle aged man, an bare-chested younger man, both wearing cowboy hats, and a young woman, all who appear in modern 20th/21st century clothing, and gives the casual book store browser the impression that this book is a western “horse opera.”  The novel is written in the first person, as Ed’s memoir of the tumultuous first year first year of the war in Florida’s Key Islands.  Readers of historical fiction will most assuredly enjoy Mr. Larranaga’s tale of love and war.

ISBN 978-1478177296, CreateSpace, © 2012, Paperback, 290 pages.  $13.49.  To Purchase click the book click HERE.

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