Their Feet Run to Evil

A Big Ray Elmore Novel

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
390 Pages
Reviewed on 04/14/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

When a young black girl’s body is pulled from a river, even though the homicide doesn’t fall under Elmore’s jurisdiction, his friendship with her mother and an eerie resemblance to a similar unsolved homicide 30 years prior compels him to find out who’s responsible for this death. He senses there is some connection to the itinerant and mysterious “rainmaker” out in the woods, but can’t quite put his finger on what it is. Using a technique reminiscent of Hollywood’s “Columbo”, he diligently pursues the meager leads. He solves the case, but will the reader piece together the clues dropped by the author before Big Ray does? Challenge yourself!

Forgive my vernacular, but Their Feet Run to Evil by Thomas D. Holland is “one helluva read”! From the subtle clues Holland drops into the plot, to the captivating disposition of Big Ray Elmore, the police chief who narrates the story, to the not so subtle reminders of the destructiveness of white supremacy and the unforgettable feelings of first love, this murder mystery kept me riveted from start to finish. I can say without hesitation that this is one of the best murder/mysteries I have ever read. What’s more, it’s unique in both its physical and time setting. Holland has captured the flavor and pastimes of the fifties and the colorful diction and colloquialisms of the county folk while pursuing infinitely relevant themes. This is excellent writing and Thomas D. Holland is an author to watch. You can preview a bit of his next book at the end of this one. I can’t wait to read it!

K.C. Finn

Their Feet Run To Evil is a work of fiction in the murder mystery genre and is the first installment in the Big Ray Elmore series. It is aimed at mature readers owing to some moderate adult content and was penned by author Thomas Holland. Set in 1957, the book follows police chief Big Ray Elmore as he investigates the disappearance of a young black girl in a small, rural Arkansas town. Despite Big Ray’s desire for a quiet life, his world is turned upside down when the missing girl’s body is finally found in a situation with similarities to a death from his own past.

Their Feet Run to Evil is a novel within the police procedural sub-genre, but as we follow police chief and veteran Big Ray Elmore through the many twists of the story, it feels more and more like a psychological drama, and a brilliant one at that. One of the most enjoyable things about this novel was how well developed both the characters and relationships were; all the relationships were dynamic and engaging and felt real. Protagonist Ray Elmore was a charming and fascinating character to follow. I enjoyed learning about his past and present and felt he had a distinctive perspective setting him apart. Author Thomas Holland does a magnificent job of weaving information and description throughout the story, allowing us as readers to learn alongside the characters. The mystery itself was colorful and well thought out, with clues dropped cleverly throughout the plot. I would not hesitate to recommend this novel to fans of dynamic murder mystery books, and interesting, three-dimensional characters.

Divine Zape

Their Feet Run to Evil: A Big Ray Elmore Novel by Thomas D. Holland is a fascinating crime mystery with unforgettable characters. The story starts with the murder of Opal Alice Turner, a black girl, and the description of a mysterious character known as the rainmaker. Chief Ray Elmore knows that the disappearance of Esther Alice King is not just another ordinary case of a missing black girl. His instincts tell him something seriously wrong is happening in Split Tree, a small town in Arkansas, and even as he tells the missing girl’s mother that everything will be fine, he knows evil is stalking the town. When the body of a black girl is found in a river, Elmore has a murder case to solve, one that is strikingly similar to a murder in the past that involved him. Can he solve this case while navigating the murky waters of his past?

This is a spellbinding mystery that is perfectly told. The protagonist is a reluctant war hero, a man who still suffers from the trauma of war. He is a character that is genuinely flawed and one that readers can easily connect to. The plot is cleverly written; the narrative is suspenseful, a quality of writing that makes for a page-turner. The descriptions are powerful and I enjoyed how Thomas D. Holland captures elements of the setting. The sleuth work in this novel is brilliantly written and I loved the drama, the spot-on questions in the investigation. The characters are fleshed-out and the plot is fully drawn. The story is emotional and nuanced, a fitting entry into the mystery and murder genres that will enthrall readers. It is deftly crafted, with a protagonist that kept my full attention. Their Feet Run to Evil: A Big Ray Elmore Novel is a story with all the key elements any reader wants in a crime mystery.