A land war in a Florida coastal town during World War I is the centerpiece of Man in the Blue Moon by Michael Morris (A Place Called Wiregrass, Slow Way Home). Ella Wallace's gambling, opium-addicted husband has disappeared. Struggling to raise their three young sons and keep her general store and land from foreclosure, Ella is forced to choose between making a partial payment on the property or paying the freight charges for a fancy clock her husband must've ordered before he vanished in the hope it might pay off her debt.
Ella's decision complicates matters in the quiet little town. And when Lanier Stillis, a distant cousin of Ella's absent husband shows up under mysterious circumstances, her dilemma takes surprising twists and turns. Is this man, with "Samson-like" blond hair and eyes that sparkle with "either hope or mischief," running from trouble? When Lanier miraculously heals one of Ella's sons and makes a lame mule walk, Ella suspects he might be an answer to prayer. But as interest in the stranger mounts, some in town perceive him as a charlatan. His presence exacerbates the land battle, forcing a conniving banker and the local preacher to begin to claw at each other.
Spiritual undercurrents abound in this well-plotted novel that raises provocative questions about faith and providence. With astute perception, Morris has crafted a story, rooted in true events, about survival at the turn of the century, plausibly fathoming small town life - and the judgments and modus operandi found therein.
Man in the Blue Moon by Michael Morris
Tyndale House Publishers, $19.99, Hardcover, 9781414368429, 400 pp
Publication Date: September 1, 2012
Please note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (9/11/12), click HERE.