In Prohibition-era New England, a family feud fuels attempted murder and a lynching.
The shaggy story is ingeniously presented by a series of disparate first-person narrators, starting with Potemkin County Deputy Marshal Ichabod Lawe, who explains the back story of star-crossed lovers Mary Elizabeth MacKay and Nick DeCosta. When Mary Elizabeth’s disapproving family calls the Ku Klux Klan to get rid of Nick, an Italian Catholic, she turns the tables by pulling out a shotgun and announcing that she’s pregnant. Nearly two decades later, their love child Angus, still a target of the MacKay family’s racist wrath, fans the flames of the conflict by getting hot and heavy with willing teen Jackie Sue MacKay. She and subsequent narrators divide their attention between this current flap and recent events in the town. Jackie Ann is followed by crotchety Ebeneezer Kauz, whose grandniece owns the local diner; Mary Elizabeth’s mother Hetty MacKay, known as Granny; and prosecutor Big Bill Sykes, who tries the MacKay boys for attempted murder and then Nick for retaliation. Subsequent narrators include Eulala, the town gossip, and, deliciously, Deputy Lawe’s faithful dog Chief.
Randall’s debut is captivating but lumpy, with the plot often lost in the meanderings of storytellers who spin yarns with more aplomb than variety.