Sons of Mercy and Justice: A Transylvania Story
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
by G.Keith Parker, Leslie Parker Borhaug

The troublesome eighteen-hundreds seriously challenge the mountain folk of Western North Carolina.  The McGaha family is no exception and confronts the many trials with more kindness than most contemporaries.  Respected for his compassion for man and beast alike, Craf McGaha becomes known far and wide for his hospitality and mercy, especially when he and his wife set up a free way-station for the many drovers and their animals traveling along the turnpike on the way to market. Yet, in 1861 when Transylvania County is being newly formed, war erupts and Craf is forced into the Confederate army and he finds himself torn between fighting on the side of his conscience or on the side of his state.  Surviving the war and the loss of six of their own children Craf, along with others, builds a chapel with the hope of bringing divided people back together through worship.

Gathering strength and courage from Craf, his son, V.B., grows into a young man with a fierce sense of justice, only intensified by an encounter with the notorious outlaw, Lewis Redmond, also from Transylvania County, the subject of novels, legends and is better known than Jesse James. Becoming the youngest sheriff in Transylvania County, V.B. must face bi-partisan challenges and the growing battle with bootlegging.  Fighting the negative stereotypes of mountain folk, V.B. must educate outsiders about the integrity and personal strength of his people. He becomes a "Revenuer" with the Internal Revenue Service, riding horses, trains and eventually autos to experience many adventures in breaking up illegal stills, recording them in his pocket diary and typed IRS reports. His exciting, emotional experiences are paralleled by his love for, and loss of, two wives.

The summer of 2012 brings Millie, at sixteen, face to face with past and present struggles in Transylvania County.  In search of the county she once loved as a child through her visits with her grandmother every summer, she must come face to face with two brothers who threaten the peace in the community.  After an assault on Ellie, a young Hispanic girl, Millie has to find a way to separate her loathing of the older two aggressive brothers from their younger brother, Kevin, who seems defenseless in Millie’s eyes.   Can Millie find a way to stop the threatening brothers and still find friendship with Kevin and Ellie? Could an old revenuer pocket diary from V.B. McGaha bring her the courage she needs?

Sons of Mercy and Justice: A Transylvania Story weaves past and present together leaving the reader with a delightful taste of the people who settled the North Carolina Mountains and their strength that still defines the region today.

Winner of the 2013 Clark Cox Historical Fiction Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians. 

North Carolina Society of Historian Judges’ comments:

This is a magnificent story of the McGaha family and how they lived their lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina.  It describes their way of life in such a way that the reader is able to share their emotions in all different situations and at all levels.  Every now and then the story shocks us, surprises us, as something happens that was not expected... just as it happens in "real" life.

The reader can learn a lot about life in the 1800s here and not just from the text or story line.  The authors have creatively interjected dated paragraphs and attached the "headlines of the year" so that the reader knows a little more about the time period the next segment of the story takes place in.

A vast amount of history can be gleaned from this novel.  It not only tells a powerful story, but it brings the people back to life, the relationships they formed, their way of life, how they lived it... and their word "respect," a word slowly being erased from our current society.  It is done in another unique manner, by weaving two stories into one.  While the McGaha story is taking place in the early 1800’s, another story is beginning at the start of Summer 2012, when "Millie" is picked up at the airport by her "Mammaw," and taken back to her house where she will spend her summer vacation.  Millie would end up at the McGaha Chapel and this, in addition to family tradition, is where Millie feels the sense of "belonging."

The book is set up where we are with the McGaha’s in one segment, Millie the next, McGaha, Millie, and so on; past present, etc.  We were taken in by both storylines, never bored... we didn’t have time to be!

Order Sons of Mercy and Justice: A Transylvania Story by G.Keith Parker, Leslie Parker Borhaug
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