Call Down the Thunder
A Crime Novel
by Dietrich Kalteis
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Pub Date 15 Oct 2019 | Archive Date 01 Oct 2019
Sonny and Clara Myers struggle on their Kansas farm in the late 1930s, a time the Lord gave up on: their land’s gone dry, barren, and worthless; the bankers are greedy and hungry, trying to squeeze them and other farmers out of their homes; and, on top of that, their marriage is in trouble. The couple can struggle and wither along with the land or surrender to the bankers and hightail it to California like most of the others. Clara is all for leaving, but Sonny refuses to abandon the family farm.
In a fit of temper, she takes off westward in their old battered truck. Alone on the farm and determined to get back Clara and the good old days, Sonny comes up with an idea, a way to keep his land and even prosper while giving the banks a taste of their own misery. He sets the scheme in motion under the cover of the commotion being caused by a rainmaker hired by the mayor to call down the thunder and wash away everyone’s troubles.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 3 members
If you’ve come to think of Kalteis as a writer of modern-day Canadian-flavored gritty noir, this novel may be a jarring departure from what you are expecting. Like his House of Blazes, Kalteis sets Call of Thunder in a historical setting, this time the Kansas dust bowl 🍲 of the Great Depression. It takes you back to the time where country folk on hard times cheered on Bonnie and Clyde. The descriptions take the reader into that stark time with the dry wind blowing across the prairie and family farms decaying and barely staving off the bank’s repo men.
It was a struggle to stay even if your family had been there for three generations. Sonny was a poor dirt farmer in hock way beyond his eyeballs to the bank with debts no honest man could pay 💰. With his marriage to Clara frayed at the edges and barely holding on, he agrees to a last desperate plan to save the farm. And, robbing the bank 🏦 just might be the least of his worrries as he sees fit to go to war against the Klansmen of the Plains.
This is a work which very much brings the thirties back to life from the old cars to the circus 🎪 performers to the sense that no one was gonna help to the dusters raging all through the dry plains.