Jack Marshal, known as “the Lion,” is a prideful sinner and reckless womanizer. When his 15-year-old daughter, Bonny, winds up pregnant by an old running buddy, Jack is outraged. And when the man is found dead, Jack is charged with murder. Alongside the coming trial play the many goings-on in a small Kansas town, summer 1960. There’s Ruthie, Jack's sister and local femme fatale, who does what with whom and when she pleases; the old priest, Father Horabet, who harbors sins of his own; Anna, Jack's wife, who quietly sustains herself and her daughter through the storm of scandal; and Johnny, Jack’s son, who faces howls of scorn pitching in little league baseball. Finally the town gathers for Jack’s trial. Beyond the drama of guilt or innocence plays the question of how men and women grapple for meaning in their wary coexistence. For temptation like the sunrise returns each day, even as we imagine ourselves standing on the banks of the river, we are immersed, carried in a greater current.
"This character-driven mystery overflows with smart dialogue and rich description. Although hard times and poverty fill many pages, so do small-town pleasures, like watching for Sputnik while lying on soft grass on a summer night. The cast members’ backstories easily lace through the text, and sex, love, and the loss of both are well presented." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Powered by exceptional characters with the ability to represent both the ironic, zany facets of life and everyday milestones of achievement, Melvin Litton creates another winning story (begun in King Harvest) that captures the characters and sentiments of this small Kansas town." -- D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review