“When it came to robbing the bank, we wasn’t polished or nothing. We just set the old truck’s hand brake and jigged out the side while the motor was running.” So begins Marcus Brotherton’s Feast for Thieves. Told in first person throughout, this is the story of ex-Sergeant “‘Rowdy’ Slater, the most incorrigible paratrooper in Dog Company during WWII.” Home from the war, unable to get a job, Rowdy, in desperation, agrees to help Crazy Ake with a bank robbery.
Unfortunately, when they came out of the bank with the money, the motor wasn’t running any more. As a result, they took off running, with the law close on their tails. To keep from getting shot, Rowdy jumps off a bridge into the river, the money in a gunnysack on his back.
Staying under long enough to feel safe, Rowdy attempts to surface only to find himself hung up on a tree—now he’s fighting for his life. As he says, “That’s when I heard him. I swore I did. The man spoke loud, although I couldn’t tell what direction his voice came … ‘Hey fella!’ … ‘You want to live?’ … I nodded my head and hoped a saving rope would soon follow. ‘Then find the good meal and eat your fill … swear you’ll do that?’ I nodded again. What a crazy thing for a man to say.” After that, the tree breaks loose, Rowdy is released from the tangles and shoots straight to the surface.
Rowdy buries the bag of money and sets out to get far away from Cut Eye, Texas, but somehow something won’t let him stay away. In order to get a meal, he goes into the Union Gospel Mission of Texas where he hears the preacher say, “You may be a murderer or a thief, but God’s Word declares there isn’t any sin that can’t be forgiven.” Preaching from Isaiah, the preacher says, “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword.” Rowdy hears the words, acknowledges that they are speaking about him, asks the preacher if this is for real, and then gets thrown out without the meal for saying, “I’m saved! Let’s eat!”
But the words he heard in the river and at the mission resonate within him and he heads back, picks up the money, and goes to the sheriff’s office in Cut Eye to turn it and himself in. The sheriff tells Rowdy what he assumes went down and offers Rowdy a chance to stay out of jail: stay in Cut Eye for a year and be the preacher at the local church. And so begins the conversion of the rough, tough, hard-living ex-paratrooper into the town preacher.
You’ll chuckle all the way through the book as you read the situations in which Rowdy finds himself—the characters in his congregation—the scrapes he can’t keep himself out of. You’ll definitely enjoy reading his tale and will be rooting for him all the way! Feast is very entertaining and worth reading. Four stars.
To follow Rowdy on his journey, click here: Feast for Thieves: A Rowdy Slater Novel
I interviewed Marcus Brotherton last June at the International Christian Retail Show. Not knowing any of his background, I asked him how he came up with Rowdy’s story. He said he’d been interviewing WWII veterans for his non-fiction book on the original Band of Brothers. He heard about Wayne “Skinny” Sisk, who was also an incorrigible soldier. Sisk was witnessed to by his six-year-old niece, accepted Christ, turned his life around, and became a preacher. Rowdy Slater is modeled after Sisk although all the situations in Feast for Thieves are fictional.
I was curious about the title, Feast for Thieves, and asked Marcus how he came up with it. He mentioned reading Isaiah and being struck with the themes of mercy, grace, and love. He read about Jesus on the cross and His conversation with the two thieves—one accepted redemption, the other turned it down. He said that redemption gives us all a second chance. And then too, if we accept what Jesus offers, we will sit someday at the grandest feast of all.
When asked what he learned about himself writing this novel, he said there was a huge humility factor in writing fiction. Although the published author or coauthor of over twenty-five non-fiction books, he found fiction to be a whole different arena, requiring entirely new skills—almost starting over in a way.
Marcus’ father is a minister, his mother a journalist. Marcus went to both Multnomah, where he studied theology and journalism, and Talbot Seminary at Biola, where he earned a master’s degree in practical theology and writing. He served in the youth ministry for eight years, then worked at a newspaper, was a book editor, and moonlighted. He’s married to Mary Margaret—they have three children: a girl, twelve; a boy, seven; and a girl, two. Marcus enjoys working with WWII veterans and running.
Interestingly, Marcus and his agent were at my table at the Christy Awards on Monday night of the show. Marcus was nominated in the First Novel category for Feast of Thieves. He was totally blown away when, in fact, they called his name! To learn more about Marcus, sign up for BookFun Magazine to read James Shupp’s article about him in the August issue. You can also check out his website, www.marcusbrotherton.com.