Phillips’ work of historical fiction follows a Civil War–era sharpshooter in the Union Army.
Debut author Phillips’ tale spotlights Jurian Baecker, the son of a minister from Texas in the 1860s, whose keen eye and sure-footedness gain him an important role in the Civil War. After Jurian loses the woman he loves and his parents die, he moves to Mexico and becomes a cattle thief, selling livestock across the border to earn a living. Jurian, who gains a reputation as the “flying Dutchman” for his skills in night raids on the cattle farms, ends up killing a man who’d threatened his livelihood in Mexico during a business transaction. He realizes that “his new life had somehow brought him to a place where killing another man was what he must do.” It is this turning point that moves Jurian to say goodbye to the love he will never have, change his name to Jake Baker and join the Union Army to “wait for the chance to kill someone Jake knew, in all likelihood, was not so different from himself.” He travels to New Orleans and joins a special unit with regimental commander Col. Berdan. Equipped with a breech-loading rifle, he learns how to “fire from a prone position, use all available cover and move after each shot so his powder smoke can’t be used to target him.” Phillips thoroughly describes Jake’s military prowess, which helps the Union Army triumph in the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. When an injury to his head and leg leaves him unable to fight, he relies on the warmth of Gisela, a local woman, who nurses him back to health so he can return to the war. Phillips tells an intriguing story for Civil War buffs and anyone who appreciates a good, comprehensive plotline and a multidimensional protagonist.
A suspense-filled journey through the Civil War told by a brave, skilled soldier.