Above All Men by Eric Shonkwiler, published by MG Press, is set in the future where drought has devastated the country. Cities empty out as people flee to the country in hopes to farm their way out. Existing farms face the hardships of running out of fuel for their equipment and are forced to grow what little they can by hand. Dust storms sweep across the landscape filling homes and barns with sand.
The main character, David Parrish, does his best to help his neighbors and a gullible family duped into believing they can turn their luck around after leaving Atlanta. David’s son, Samuel, befriends the new family’s little girl, Mel, while David attempts to teach the family how to farm only to end up helping to build a rudimentary house on his own property for the family when those attempts fail.
David’s past as a War Veteran haunt him throughout, including a visit from his fellow veteran and best friend Red, instilling flashbacks that spur David to wander away from his family time and time again as he tries to reconcile tragic events that befall the characters of this story. When Sam’s friend Mel is murdered the turn of events rock David and his family to their core. David’s wife begs for him to stay home as she watches Sam slide further into himself, David leaves and begins hunting for clues on his own since the local law enforcement failed to turn up leads.
There are layers of daily life that all collide towards the end, from a mining boss who keeps trying to convince David to join his company and give up farming, to David’s neighbor who keeps an eye on the family when David is away. There is also the Sherriff’s Deputy who is keen on David’s wife and finds ways to visit the farm while David tries to find Mel’s killer.
The novel is engrossing and frightening in its potential realities. The children in the novel have never experienced the internet and when the adults make the mistake of mentioning such technology they quickly retreat and change the subject as though it would be too painful to mention when people around the world were more connected. Cars no longer exist on the road; horses that run free are sought after, any animals that offer sustenance are highly prized. This novel seems to be a nod toward’s Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath but with a futuristic twist with a murder mystery combined.
This book kept me up nights and I imagine it will do the same for you. If you’d like to obtain a copy of Eric Shokwiler’s Above All Men for yourself, you may purchase a copy for $13.21 at Amazon at:
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