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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Reaping the Whirlwind: A Trent Tyson Historical Mystery by Rosey Dow is an old-fashioned murder/mystery built around a significant historical event in Tennessee in the mid-1920s. When Trent Tyson was drummed out of the Chattanooga Police Force after he attempted to expose corruption at the highest levels, he sought a quieter life in the small rural town of Dayton, Tennessee as a Sheriff’s Deputy. With his little girl Lori, who suffers from a birth deformity, Trent sets about fitting into small-town life and getting to know the locals, especially Nessa, the attractive daughter of his landlady, to whom he is instantly attracted. When some of the town’s residents appear to have been poisoned by a plant known as Tandy, Tyson’s detective skills and abilities are put to the test as he tries to track down the mysterious murderer. Bigger things, though, are on the horizon for the sleepy town of Dayton as Tennessee’s new law forbids the teaching of evolution. Dayton and Trent Tyson are about to be caught up in a trial that would transfix the entire nation and put Dayton, Tennessee on the map for all time. The Scopes Evolution Trial in 1925 will attract the greatest legal minds of the century, Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, to the town and somehow amongst the mayhem caused by the trial Tyson must try to figure out who is murdering the town’s enfeebled and disabled citizens and why?
Reaping the Whirlwind is a fun, interesting read. In a good old-fashioned murder/mystery, author Rosey Dow has infused the narrative with historical happenings that at the time polarized and captivated an entire nation. For some, Christianity itself was on trial during the Scopes Trial and as someone who loves historical fiction mixed artfully together with real-life events, I was enthused and excited watching the story unfold. The author does a tremendous job of throwing out “red herrings” as to the identity of the murderer and I have to admit that this even had me fooled for much of the story. I particularly liked Trent Tyson as a lead character. His burgeoning relationship with Nessa was one of the highlights of the tale and the sticking point – Trent’s avowed atheism - made for an interesting clash and conflict of ideals. One of the aspects of the story that appealed to me was the exploration and explanation of eugenics, which was an idea that did hold considerable weight all around the world in the early 20th century. The author painted Trent as a moral man but an atheist nevertheless, whereas Nessa, although attracted to him, could see no future with a man who did not believe in God. Although billed as Christian historical fiction, the faith aspect of the novel is so subtle and well woven into the story that it will appeal not only to people of faith but also to non-believers. The nature of the Scopes trial will allow readers to question unwavering faith in any shape or form and this is one of the shining aspects of this story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can highly recommend it.