A Land More Kind Than Home

by Wiley Cash (Doubleday) ISBN 9780857520807

 

In the small town of Marshall, North Carolina, the charismatic and secretive self-professed preacher Carson Chambliss starts the Church of Christ in Signs Following. The church is a disused shop with newspapers covering the windows so no one can see in.

 

No one really cares what goes on there each Sunday, until a mute child, Christopher Hall, is smothered and dies during a healing service.

 

It’s up to Clem Barefield, the county sheriff, to break the spell the dangerous Chambliss has over his followers—especially the dead boy’s mother. When he discovers Chambliss’s shady criminal past and the truth about another death at the church from an old nurse, he realises that he must act before Ben Hall, the boy’s father, takes justice into his own hands.

 

The only character who really knows the reason behind the tragedy is nine-year old Jess Hall, who is inadvertently keeping a family secret of his own. 

 

The novel is narrated in turns by Clem, Adelaide and young Jess, to give three subjective viewpoints on God, family and truth.  In using the serial first person, Wiley Cash captures the rhythms of Appalachian speech and the atmosphere of a small rural county—laying bare its prejudices, secrets and tragedies.  It’s the kind of book that once you pick up, you can’t put down.

 

A compelling debut reminiscent of To Kill a Mocking Bird.

 

Anthony Ehlers

4/5

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Posted on: 14th August 2012
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