‘Back To The Dirt’ Book Review By Ron Fortier

Back To The Dirt Book Review By Ron Fortier

BACK TO THE DIRT
By Frank Bill
FSG Originals
307 pgs

In his afterword, author Frank Bill tells us his father served in Vietnam from December of 1967 to Jan of 1969 as a Marine. We mention this reviewer was in-country between the summer of 67 and summer of 68. We were one of thousands of American that served there. For reasons we won’t get into, we generally don’t read books involving that war. Why we opted to look at this one was the slant it employed dealing primarily with the lasting affects of that conflict on the book’s protagonist thirty years later.

Miles Knox is a pragmatic middle aged veteran working a tough, dirty factory job. Since his days his Vietnam, his life has been filled with drugs, booze and merely finding a way to get by day by day. Eventually, he becomes involved with a beautiful young stripper working at a local men’s club. Though young enough to be his daughter, Shelby has suffered own hardship being abandoned by the mother and raised by an abusive father who is also a vet, but one totally twisted by his combat experience. Somehow Miles and Shelby find mutual solace together.

When her younger brother, Wylie, while strung out on drugs, murders his suppliers, a young married couple, all hell breaks loose. The couple’s young son, Shadrack, escapes and flees to the safety of his uncle, Nathaniel Timberlake, a former police officer. Enraged by the death of his brother and sister-in-law, Nathaniel, with the boy in tow, sets out to find Wylie and deliver his own vengeful justice. At the same time, Miles can’t find Shelby and becomes worried something bad has befallen her.

As the night wears on, both he and Nathaniel’s paths crisscross. When they finally meet and join forces, the true horror of what they uncover far surpasses even their worst imaginings.

Frank Bill is a terrific writer with so much courage and integrity he portrays the fragility of life with all its blessings and curses. His sensitivity is palpable in his characters and by then story’s conclusion, one is left emotional spent. “Back to the Dirt” is a brilliant work of reality…disguised as fiction. Don’t miss it.

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