They say that back in the day a viable defense for a charge of manslaughter was “He needed killing.” This, no doubt, was a very popular state of affairs in East Texas, the setting of Seth Anderson Bailey’s writing debut.
Bailey, a wounded Iraq War veteran was formerly a 82nd Airborne Division LRSD “Lurp”(Long Range Surveillance Detachment) . Likewise, his protagonist, Jedediah Shaw, is a former paratrooper and an Iraq War veteran with his own rucksack full of demons.
Shaw returns to the small East Texas town he calls home and an oft times tumultuous relationship with Abigail, the girl he previously left behind to go off and fight “his” war. But, like a lot of returning vets have realized, it was easier carrying an M-4 and door kicking in Baghdad than it is returning to “normal” life and handling the everyday demands of civilian life as a husband and a college student.
Despite heartfelt promises he made himself in the desert , or maybe because of them, he finds himself leading a life of quiet desperation, working as muscle for a local bondsman.
Running down bail jumpers doesn’t quite pay the bills though and he soon finds himself mired by debt and looking for a way out. And of course someone makes him an offer. Good money for a simple task, or so he tells himself. The evil-doing rich scion of a local dynasty contacts Jeb. He wants his old high school classmate to find his sister and return her home.
She is mixed up with a bad crowd and that spins Jeb even deeper into trouble. Meth deals, automatic weapons, brawls, revenge, and gun play decorate a good solid plot. And to make it interesting, he has friends. The kind you can depend upon for an extra drop gun, $500 cash, and the keys to a car at three in the morning … Or the kind who will loan you the gun, the car, and a shovel.
And then say, ‘what the hell,’ and leave a warm bed with a good woman to go help you bury the bodies. Who of us who have spent time in the military and especially in some godforsaken war zone don’t have those kinds of friends? And that’s where Bailey finds common ground with his readership, evoking the rugged individualism, sense of personal responsibility for one’s actions, and the “take care of business” ideal that was once so common in America.
In recommending this first novel to several friends I make the same remark I’ve made in recommending James Crumley, James Lee Burke, and Cormac McCarthy: “He does violence well.”
And the similarities and influences don’t end there. Like both Burke and Crumley, Bailey litters his story with the flotsam of humanity – dissolute characters most normally found in the settings of Burke’s Bayou Teche, Louisiana and Crumley’s Merriweather, Montana .
Like Crumley’s protagonists , Bailey’s anti-hero is, to be blunt, a drunk and a drug binger. He’s also a man with more than a passing familiarity with firearms and mortal combat. And he’s a war vet. All themes found in the works of Burke and Crumley.
But Bailey’s work is no mere imitation. Yes, homage perhaps, but this shining new talent from East Texas definitely has an original voice. It’s like Jim Beam, a little rough around the edges and it packs a wallop going down. Don’t dilute it with water.
TEAM DVM Recommended- Buy This Book or we Will track You Down and kick You in the Nuts
And the Rain Came Down
By S. A. Bailey
Rob is a former US Army Officer who has traveled to over 70 countries and worked with several foreign Military’s. Rob is also the author of Save the Last Bullet for Yourself: A Soldier of Fortune in the Balkans and Somalia, a war memoir of the Balkans and Somalia.