Only the Rain by Randall Silvis (Thomas & Mercer, 2018) is the latest book from a versatile novelist, poet, essayist, and playwright. Russell Blystone returned home after a tour of duty in Iraq and set about pursuing the American dream. He used his GI benefits to acquire a college degree and then he started a family. When the story opens, he has two little girls and a third baby is on the way. His wife is a bank teller and he has six months under his belt as a foreman at the local rock quarry. They are living paycheck to paycheck but he is cautiously optimistic about their future. Until the quarry owner sells out to a foreign investor, who will not be keeping any of the current personnel.
Stunned and sickened at the financially devastating news, he takes a different route home in the pouring rain and a series of innocent actions leads him to boxes of cash in an empty house. With everything the money would mean to his young family, he can’t resist taking some of it. From that point on, he struggles with guilt, how to tell his wife, and where to hide the money, all while searching frantically for a job in an area where work is hard to find. When he learns the money belongs to the local meth dealers, he is paralyzed with fear.
The story is laid out in a series of emails to Russell’s former squadron leader Spence, whom Russell admired greatly. He reminisces as much about the terrible events he witnessed while in the Middle East as his current predicament and he draws parallels between them. The author seems to ask how anyone can subject thousands of young adults to the horrors of war and then expect them to come home to lead normal lives. The generic locale references heighten the sense that Russell is Everyman, and his experience is the same as any young man whose life has been disrupted by battle.
I found this book to be an unusual, absorbing read, a combination of philosophy and thriller, although its rambling stream-of-conscious narrative wasn’t always easy to follow. It was a Kindle Prime selection earlier this year.
· Hardcover: 188 pages
· Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (January 1, 2018)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 1542049946
· ISBN-13: 978-1542049948
Aubrey Hamilton ©2018
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal IT projects by day and reads mysteries at night.