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10 October 2014

By all Men's Judgements
Brad Cotton
Prinia Press
Publication Date
April 2014
novel, Western


Knowing she doesn’t have long to live, Liza Meacham summons local newspaper writer Nathaniel to her bedside to share a story she’s kept to herself for seven decades. It’s the story of a man named Joseph Tilley, a man she came to know quite well. With her granddaughter, Madeline, also by her side, Liza begins to reveal how an innocent Oklahoma farm boy fell into a life of crime to become a notorious outlaw in the early 1920s. 

Over the following weeks Madeline and Nathaniel begin piecing together the mysteries that remain where Liza’s recollection leaves off. The secrets they uncover may change their lives forever – if they can find their way to the end . . . and to the truth. 

My review:  
This sweet story needs more exposure.

I absolutely loved this book from the very first page and it is clear that Brad Cotton can tell a story and keep you hooked. The book has structure and the writing style is not over-complicated. (I have a pet-hate for long and windy sentences in books. Books are meant to entertain - I don't want to read an academic essay)

By all Men's Judgements plays in two different time frames. Firstly, there is grandma Liza, her niece Madeline and writer Nathaniel in present day. Liza is terminally ill and knows she has not a lot of time left so calls local writer Nathaniel to her house. She has a story to tell and wants Nathaniel to write it down. Not quite sure what to expect, Nathaniel and Madeline is quickly enthralled with the story - and so are we as readers. 

Liza takes us back to the 1920's Oklahoma where young Joe witnesses his parents murder and gets send to stay with his cousin's family. Joe quickly develops a friendship with his cousin Buck.This is prohibition-age America, and Buck knows where money is to be made with home-brewed alcohol. They quickly start to make a name for themselves, starting out as rookies working for the big boss and almost innocently going about their business. But Joe, of course, can never forget what has happened to his parents. The story cuts back in intervals to Madeline and Nathaniel who slowly start to put the pieces of the puzzle together. 

There is a bit of a 'Western-like' feel to this story. I am not usually one for Westerns and surprised myself that I liked this book so much. It had me rooting for Joe and ... and I finished the book in 2 days. A story about friendship to the end, betrayal, courage. And yes, there is a twist at the end which I did not see coming.

Anything I didn't like? I think I would have liked a different cover. Maybe a 1920's style picture of Joe? The current cover picture is, in my humble opinion, a bit non-descriptive and as many readers do pick up their books by the cover (yes, it has been proven to be true!!), I think this lovely little book will be overlooked.