Deputy Marshall Ichabod Lawe, the principal narrator in Brant Randall’s debut novel Blood Harvest may have been a gossip, however, he undoubtedly had quite a yarn to narrate. As Lawe informs us, the MacKay family, who lived in Peony Springs, a little rural town in New England, were not exactly pleased when in 1916 their fifteen-year old daughter Mary Elizabeth was involved in a romantic adventure with Nick DeCosta, who was a Catholic and of Italian decent, two qualities her family abhorred.
The MacKays decided to put an end to their daughter’s amorous adventures and called upon the Ku Klux Klan to help them carry out their wishes. However, matters did not work out the way they had planned as Mary Elizabeth showed up with a shotgun and saved her lover from certain death. And at the same time Mary Elizabeth announced to her family that she was carrying Nick’s bambino.
The couple decided to elope and they ran away to the next county, never setting foot back into Potemkin County.
Shortly thereafter Mary Elizabeth gave birth to a boy whom she named Angus, which was the same name as her father, Angus MacKay. Angus DeCosta grew up to be quite a lady charmer and once he attained puberty he began running wild.
One day in 1929, fifteen –year old Angus crossed over into Potemkin County and on a dare showed up at a covered dish sociable where the MacKay family were in attendance.
Initially, Angus did not encounter any problems, however, all of this was soon to change when Angus and Andrew MacKay spied their thirteen- year old cousin Jackie Sue MacKay in the bushes with some young boy they did not recognize.Apparently, Angus DeCosta and Jackie Sue, who could have easily passed for an eighteen -year old, had their hands inside the other’s clothes.
When the MacKay boys noticed what was happening all hell broke loose and Angus DeCosta was given quite a beating and was thrown into the Euphrates river. Fortunately for Angus, his father Nick came to his rescue, however not before using his shotgun to put “plenty of birdshot into the hides of the MacKays, providing cover while his boy dragged hisself out of the water.” All of this led to two trials, one to be tried in Potemkin County concerning the MacKays and their alleged attempted murder of Angus De Costa while the second would take place in Jefferson County where Nick DeCosta lived and where he was charged with a second attempted murder by birdshot.
It was questionable, however, if justice would be rendered in Potemkin County, home to the MacKays, where the Sheriff and the judge were put into office due to having more MacKay relatives than his opponent running against them. In addition, the moonshiners and other businessmen including to a large extent, the MacKays, were quite generous in their contributions making sure that the Sheriff and the judge had ample funds at their disposal.
Author Brant Randall has set himself quite a task in creating a story infused with a great deal of humor and sharp wit as he describes the trials as well as some of the goofy participating characters. There is the prosecuting attorney, William “Big Bill” Sykes, who has political ambitions, Old Lady MacKay, the family matriarch, who is quite a businesswoman, Jackie Sue, who may not be as innocent as appears, Judge Halbertson, the Public Defender Herman Schneider, Angus Decosta, the Mackay boys, Mary Elizabeth MacKay DeCosta and her husband, Nicola Anthony (who eventually is hanged by the KKK), and some of the more fearsome who had connections to the Ku Klux Klan as Jedediah Spout who was also a wife beater and paid dearly for his horrendous behavior.
All in all Blood Harvest is an entertaining romp of a story and is strikingly good. Moreover, Randall certainly has an enviable knack for catching the speech of his characters that at times are hilarious as is the episode with Nick DeCosta being cross-examined about his moonshining business and when he chooses to take“the fifth.” The jurors and the spectators were not exactly sure what the fifth meant and “even some were of the opinion that the fifth was a unit of alcoholic measure while others believed he was referring to the fifth commandment.”
Quite noteworthy and something that is very often the case with novels, Blood Harvest stemmed from an actual event. Randall recounts in his introduction that his novel grew from an incident related to him by his grandmother when she was in her nineties. Apparently, his grandparents never returned to their hometown after their marriage and when questioned by her grandson why she never returned to her hometown, she replied that it was “those dumb clucks.” She further explained that her brother-in-law didn’t think it right for a white girl to marry a non-white European. Apparently, Randall was dumbfounded to discover that his grandmother was referring to the Ku Klux Klan.
The KKK, who as it turns out and something probably few readers realize, did not take too kindly to Catholics, immigrants as well as African Americans, had chased his grandparents out of their New England town. What was more surprising to Randall was that the movement centered itself in the Northeast of the USA with a large contingent in the Midwest and not in the South as he and most of us would have believed.
To read Norm's Interview With Brant Randall CLICK HERE
The above review was contributed by: The Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com, Norm Goldman, B.A. LL.L, Retired Title Attorney: Norm is also a travel writer and together with his artist wife, Lily, the couple meld Norm's words with Lily's art. To check out their travel site click on Sketchandtravel.comClick here to view Norm’s Reviews & Interviews.
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Meet Brant Randall Author of Blood Harvest
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