It’s 1951. The Thebes State Penal Farm in Mississippi is up a dark river, surrounded by swamps and impenetrable piney woods. It’s the Old South at its most brutal - a place of violence, racial terror, and even more horrific rumors. Of the few who make the journey, black or white, even fewer return.But in that year, two men will come to Thebes. The first is Sam Vincent, the former prosecuting attorney of Polk County, Arkansas who, with great misgivings, accepts a job to investigate a disappearance. Before he leaves on this dangerous trip, he confesses his fears to his former investigator Earl Swagger, now a sergeant of the Arkansas State Police. Earl pledges that if Sam is not back by a certain time, he will come looking for him.
What they encounter there is something beyond their wildest imagining of evil. The dying black town is ruled by white deputies on horseback who are more like an occupying army and the only escape is over the wild currents of the dark river that drowns as many people as it liberates. But nothing in town compares to the prison. Run by an aging madman with insane theories of racial purity, it is administered by a brutal sergeant known as Bigboy. The convicts call him The Whip Man - he can take a man’s soul with his nine feet of braided catgut.
Both Sam and Earl will be challenged to the limits of their strength by this place and will struggle not only for their own survival, but with the question: What does a man do when confronted with evil?
©2008 Stephen Hunter (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Retired real estate broker. 66 years old married for 44 years to my high school sweetheart. 2 children and 2 grandchildren. I love to read but because of medical issues I had to turn to audio books and I love them.
Fish. Because he got over on the man
Good read if you are a Stephen Hunter fan and not offended by his comments about black people which was the way it was at that time in the deep South.
The way the author pulled me right into the middle of the action.
Yes. I know a lot of authors leave you hanging at the end of a chapter to keep you reading, but this author has truly mastered it! Twice I had to leave the character of Sam Vincent hanging by a thread, I actually felt guilty about leaving him hanging there. And he was not the only character left hanging.
This is a tough one, all the characters were good. But Sam Vincent was outstanding, he was always struggling with his legal ethics but unwilling to leave Earl Swagger in a bad situation. The author never wavers from the characters personality traits. Sam was a lawyer through and through all the way through the story. The only thing that surprised me about him was his "girlfriend"! Of course, friends only, not a mistress. That would have been outside the envelope.
Yes, because there were only seven men (and one great female chacter) going up against so many evil characters. I also wanted to get to the reasoning behind the doctor, why he would do such evil things.
This was my first Earl Swagger novel, I have already read all the Bob Lee Swagger novels and frankly, I couldn't believe they could keep up with the action and characters of the Bob Lee stories. They sure did. On to the next! Thanks to Stephen Hunter for such fine entertainment.
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