McRaven (Build Me a Tower, 2016, etc.) offers a tale of violence, revenge, and love in the early American republic, interlocked with a love story set two centuries later.
In the late 1700s, Adam Kyle is a noted Revolutionary War gunsmith whose young wife and two children are killed when an infamous villain known as Red Beard shoots it out with a ragtag militia. Adam pursues him from Pennsylvania all the way to the Carolinas, where, he’s told, Red Beard dies of his wounds and lowland fever. A broken Adam moves to eastern Tennessee to try to begin anew. Two hundred years down the line, David Kyle, one of Adam’s many descendants, is a restorer of cabins (just as author McRaven is). His cousin Dane’s widow, Harriet, has inherited a piece of property with a run-down cabin on it—the very cabin that Adam built for his betrothed, Constance Green, so many years ago. David and Harriet fall in love, and while restoring the cabin, they discover an old manuscript telling the true story of Adam, his courtship of Constance, and his dealings with the mysterious, ambitious John Cabell. A sidebar to this story involves the legendary “super rifle” that Adam built for Cabell, since lost. Gradually, Adam and others begin to suspect that there is something mysterious about Cabell—something, in fact, that’s unsavory. In good time and dramatic fashion, the storylines of the Kyle clan of eastern Tennessee come to a ripping conclusion. Overall, McRaven is a talented writer who’s created, in David, an especially believable and likable narrator. At the same time that David and Harriet are editing the manuscript that they discovered in the cabin, the author cleverly depicts David restoring the cabin itself, showing how Adam and his story are in the process of being figuratively restored. Readers also get some intriguing snippets of McRaven’s own expertise (smithing, masonry, and so on) along the way.
A novel within a novel that’s well worth a read.