Posted:  Jan. 5, 2015

Wayfaring Stranger (Weldon Holland, #1)From “America’s best novelist” (The Denver Post): A sprawling thriller drenched with atmosphere and intrigue that takes a young boy from a chance encounter with Bonnie and Clyde to the trenches of World War II and the oil fields along the Texas-Louisiana coast.

It is 1934 and the Depression is bearing down when sixteen-year-old Weldon Avery Holland happens upon infamous criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow after one of their notorious armed robberies. A confrontation with the outlaws ends as Weldon puts a bullet through the rear window of Clyde’s stolen automobile.

Ten years later, Second Lieutenant Weldon Holland and his sergeant, Hershel Pine, escape certain death in the Battle of the Bulge and encounter a beautiful young woman named Rosita Lowenstein hiding in a deserted extermination camp. Eventually, Weldon and Rosita fall in love and marry and, with Hershel, return to Texas to seek their fortunes.

There, they enter the domain of jackals known as the oil business. They meet Roy Wiseheart—a former Marine aviator haunted with guilt for deserting his squadron leader over the South Pacific—and Roy’s wife Clara, a vicious anti-Semite who is determined to make Weldon and Rosita’s life a nightmare. It will be the frontier justice upheld by Weldon’s grandfather, Texas lawman Hackberry Holland, and the legendary antics of Bonnie and Clyde that shape Weldon’s plans for saving his family from the evil forces that lurk in peacetime America and threaten to destroy them all.

Mr. Burke, transports you back in time with the cast of characters and the of a young man who is being raised by his grandfather, who was a former Texas Ranger, and his mother who is in and out of mental hospitals. Weldon, the main character finally tells his grandfather when he is a teenager to bring his mother home which his grandfather does. He then goes off to war WWII, were he is a lieutenant in the Army and he and a sergeant are then over run and buried by German tanks during the Battle of the Bugle. Later when he frees himself and then Herschel, the sergeant they make their way to a village they find a place to stay and also a women named Rosita. After a week a so they are rescued by paratroopers from the 82nd. Weldon has to go to a hospital for his wounds and before he is shipped back home he tracks down Rosita and they are married. They make it back to Texas and after a short while he tracks down Herschel. They become partners in an oil drilling business together, but they soon find out that not everyone likes Weldon’s, wife for she is Jewish. This does not bother Weldon or Herschel, but his wife and their so called friends now don’t want to associate with them. The people with who want their business now are looking for different ways to go about it like the hearings from the fifties. You get a look at life in our country at a different time but it is always the same someone with money trying to take down the little guy. They fight back in this book and though it is not a true story as you are reading the characters do feel real. That is the part of writing that Mr. Burke, is so good at making the story feel alive. This is a good book and a fast read. I got this book from net galley.

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