"Scattered Harvest" is about men and women at their best and worst. It's a story about faith and hope, with a labyrinth of trials and tribulations sometimes devoid of any and all human kindness. A superb work of storytelling, "Scattered Harvest" touches the heart, the mind, and the soul from cover to cover.
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Penn County, Indiana, like all rural areas in the early 1900's, is in the processof changing forever. The horse and buggy days are fading away, as are the mores of the Victorian era. With WWI on the winds of the American landscape, the children of the one room schoolhouse begin to drift apart. Four generations of the Krouse family, like many families, have seen their share of hard times as pioneers of the Midwest, working vast amounts of land. However, Will Krouse, a dairy farmer, has everything he's ever dreamed of - until now. Confronted with a seriously ill wife, and four children too young to be of help with the family farm, he's on the verge of mental breakdown. Doctor Earl Slayer Jr. is the son of the late Doctor Earl Sr., a kindly man who accepted pigs, chickens, and eggs as payment for his house calls. Doc Jr. is looking for wealth at any cost, and sees Will as a pawn to accomplish his goals, with Will's wife, Rebecca, as his prize. Will and Doc are destined for a place called Long Pointe - an asylum for the insane, a Victorian building hiding secrets inside the bowels of its inner sanctum. Doc has a scheme, and Will, unfortunately, gets entangled in its web. Two of Will's childhood friends, twins who "flat-back" in the rooms upstairs at Honey Boy's Tavern, are his only outside confidants. Sheriff Wendell Gates, a lifelong friend of both Will and Doc, is torn between good and evil as Penn County's lawman.
A Chilling Story!
"Life in the Midwest of the United States was hard for farmers at the beginning of the 20th century. Farmers were still using methods similar to the methods of 200 years earlier. As always, farmers were at the mercy of the weather. However, sometimes farmers could be at the mercy of their fellow man.
Will Krouse was living the hard life of a farmer in Penn County, Indiana. Though uneducated, Will knew about farming and was successful. Will had married his childhood sweetheart, Rebecca, and was raising a house full of children. The future looked bright for Will and his family.
Doctor Earl Slayer, Jr., should have been happy. He was well educated and prosperous. Doc Slayer was also a powerful man in Penn County, but he had yet to obtain the one thing he longed for more than anything, Rebecca Krouse. Doc Slayer always thought that he and Rebecca were destined to be together. Doc Slayer's longing has festered for many years; he sees a chance to manipulate events when acquaintance Wendell Gates, I say acquaintance because men like Doc Slayer rarely have friends, runs for sheriff. Doc Slayer only wants one thing from Wendell when he wins: Doc Slayer wants a position at the Long Pointe asylum for the insane.
Wendell becomes sheriff and Doc Slayer lays the ground work to place Will Krouse into Long Pointe and under his control. However, Doc Slayer little realizes the effect that Will Krouse will have on the lives of many people in Penn County and at the Long Pointe asylum. Before Will has an opportunity to change anyone's life, he has to save himself from the hell into which he has descended at Long Pointe, a hell from which few have ever returned.
"Scattered Harvest" is a novel that has several levels. On the surface it is about how we are unable to predict the course of our lives. At a deeper level the book is about how the forces of evil can scatter all the good deeds of a man and the kind of perseverance and will it takes to overcome those forces. But this novel is also about hope and faith. If you wish to find a standard of good against which to measure yourself, try Will Krouse.
Thomas Ray Crowel has written a chilling novel that is scarier because it was inspired by a true story. Crowel pulls no punches as he takes us into the sordid world of a Doctor who is most likely insane and an attendant at the asylum who is most certainly insane. These two individuals provide the contrast with the morals and predictable and normal life of Will Krouse. The language and descriptions in this novel are quite adult and graphic, so be sure you are prepared for events that may seem unbelievable, but aspects of which have been documented in detail by historians. Crowel does an all too good job of describing the conditions of insane asylums at the beginning of the 20th century. He also does an all too good job of showing how one man could manipulate many in a small environment.
Though I found this book to be disturbing, I also found it difficult to put down. This fictional story with its roots in fact reminds us once again that the kinds of things we do to each other can be awful and disgusting.
I recommend this book for fans of historical fiction, particularly the seedier aspects of history. Crowel's description of farming in the U.S. Midwest is excellent and well-researched. If you are looking for historical fiction about the descendants of Europeans who settled in the Midwest, this book will be a unique find. I also recommend you get this one before it becomes a film."
This review is based on a copy of the book provided to me by the author.
Enjoy! -Lonnie E. Holder
The writing wasnicely descriptive and had a strong sense of atmosphere..." - Kensington Publishing
"I was so impressed by the ambitious research and planning that the author clearly undertook in order to bring this story to life..." -Hyperion
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