An Indie Next List Pick for January 2017
A middle-aged Irish immigrant, Billy has a gift for illusion—making damaged objects look new. His companion, Charles, the smooth-tongued teenage son of a prostitute, is a natural salesman, just like the mythical father he’s never met. Longtime horse traders and partners, they’ve recently turned their talents to trading mules. But in the summer of 1916, these seasoned grifters skilled in the art of the underhanded deal have just been swindled themselves. They’re saddled with the one thing they may not be able to unload: a gorgeous, murderous black mare named the Midnight Cool.
Charles should have listened to Catherine, the beautiful, rebellious daughter of Leland Hatcher, the richest man in Richfield, Tennessee, and the former owner of the Midnight Cool. The horse would be worth a fortune—if she weren’t a verified man-killer who attacks on sight. Charles and Billy are rooted in this muggy town until they can miraculously retrain their recalcitrant mare, and in the shadow of the growing inevitability of war, their bond begins to fray. Falling in love with Catherine—and under the spell of the deceitful, wealthy Leland, the vision of himself he’d like to be—Charles pulls away from the older man.
Despite their growing distance, Billy and Charles find their business thriving when the war in Europe pushes the demand for mules sky-high and the United States enters the fight. But when a trade goes terribly wrong, Charles is forced to reevaluate his allegiance to his country, the moral implications of his lifestyle, his relationship with Catherine, and, ultimately, his mysterious and surprisingly deep connection to Billy.
Populated by spirited, memorable characters, The Midnight Cool is a startlingly profound tale of aspiration, loyalty, and love—and the eternal search for something lasting in a transitory world.
“Against the backdrop of millions of mules being shipped off to war, Peelle tells a human love story that charms, instructs, and makes us cry for the squandered lives of animals and men.”
Jaimy Gordon, National Book Award–winning author
“The miraculous, rare novel that is as compulsively readable as it is beautifully written.”
Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author
“Peelle’s storytelling talents and down-home writing style are showcased finely…[A] tale of dark secrets, patriotism, honesty, and friendship.”
RT Book Reviews (4 stars)
“Satisfying…Like a cross between Faulkner’s Spotted Horses and Fitzgerald’s The Last of the Belles.”
“Richly textured…The propulsive narrative, fueled by poetic prose, is made more powerful by the heart-wrenching, quietly heroic lives eked out in the margins of history.”
“Peelle [is] a natural storyteller with a fine sense of town life and characters and of a time when maybe irony couldn’t tarnish words like ‘duty.’”
“Dark and delightful and achingly authentic, this is an exquisite story of love, war, sex, death, and mules.”
Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints
“Peelle uses her remarkable talent to remind the reader that we—all of us—are at the mercy of so many things beyond our control, and that life goes quickly, and that we only get one.”
Mary Beth Keane, author of Fever
Don Hagen has been behind the microphone since fifth grade. He is a nine-time winner of the Peer Award for narration/voice-over and twice winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award. He has also been heard in radio and television commercials and documentaries. In addition to his freelance voice work, he is a member of the audiobook narration team at the Library of Congress.
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- Publisher: HarperCollins
- Genre: Fiction/Literary
- ISBN-13: 978-0-06-266891-2