Books

All Things Bright and Strange

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In the wake of World War I in the small, Southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina, the town folk believe they’ve found a little slice of heaven in a mysterious chapel in the woods. But they soon realize that evil can come in the most beautiful of forms.

The people of Bellhaven have always looked to Ellsworth Newberry for guidance, but after losing his wife and his future as a professional pitcher, he is moments away from testing his mortality once and for all. Until he finally takes notice of the changes in his town . . . and the cardinals that have returned.

Upon the discovery of a small chapel deep in the Bellhaven woods, healing seems to fall upon the townspeople, bringing peace after several years of mourning. But as they visit the “healing floor” more frequently, the people begin to turn on one another, and the unusually tolerant town becomes anything but.

The cracks between the natural and supernatural begin to widen, and tensions rise. Before the town crumbles, Ellsworth must pull himself from the brink of suicide, overcome his demons, and face the truth of who he was born to be by leading the town into the woods to face the evil threatening Bellhaven.

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“Screenwriter Markert (The Angel’s Share) conjures an apocalyptic page-turner that blends Frank Peretti-style supernatural elements with the fine detail of historical novels.” Publishers Weekly

“In ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND STRANGE, James Markert melds the ordinary and the extraordinary to create a compelling tale.” Greer Macallister, bestselling author of The Magician’s Lie and Girl in Disguise

Demonic forces are invading Bellhaven, and it’s up to Ellsworth to find a way to fight and defeat this evil. Markert’s (A White Wind Blew) restrained language and pacing enhances an already menacing tone. While the battle between good and evil is not a particularly original theme, Markert’s unusual story line and compelling characters offer a fresh perspective.Library Journal (Starred Review)

The Angels’ Share

angels-share_fc Some believed he was the second coming of Christ.  William wasn’t so sure.  But when that drifter was buried next to the family distillery, everything changed.

Now that Prohibition has ended, what the townspeople of Twisted Tree, Kentucky, need most is the revival of the Old Sam Bourbon distillery. But William McFee knows it’ll take a miracle to convince his father, Barley, to once more fill his family’s aging house with barrels full of bourbon.

When a drifter recently buried near the distillery begins to draw crowds of pilgrams, the McFees are dubious, but miracles seem to come to those who once interacted with the deceased and to those now praying at his grave.  As people descend on the town to visit the “Potter’s Field Christ”, William seeks to find the connection between the tragic death of his younger brother and the mysterious drifter.

But as news spreads about the miracles at the Potter’s Field, the publicity threatens to bring the depth of Barley’s secret past to light and put the entire McFee family in jeopardy.

The Angels’ Share is a story of fathers and sons, of young romance, of revenge and redemption, and the mystery of miracles.

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“Miracles, mysteries, signs, and secrets ferment along with murder, threats, illegal activity, and lots of drinking to create a novel that will entertain as well as confound. Readers will find a unique tale that will leave them thinking long after the last bottle is stoppered!” Publishers Weekly

“Folksy charm, an undercurrent of menace, and an aura of hope permeate this inspirational tale.” -Booklist

“Distinguished by complex ideas and a foreboding tone, Markert’s enthralling novel captures a dark time and a people desperate for hope.” Library Journal

“Bullets.  Gravel.  Southern church pews.  An illegal distillery and a slew of small town secrets…I’d call that a strong brew.”  Julie Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of Into the Free.

“James Markert’s voice is as true as his words.  The Angels’ Share is a tale replete with mysteries and magic, a worthy addition to the South’s literary tradition.”  Billy Coffey, author of There Will be Stars.

“Mysterious, gritty and a bit mystical, Markert’s entertaining new novel inspires the question of “What if?”  Many of the characters are nicely multilayered, providing a good balance of intrigue and realism.  The fascinating glimpse into the process of distilling bourbon – and the effect of Prohibition in Kentucky and its bourbon families – adds another layer to the story.”  -RT Book Reviews 

A White Wind Blew

awhitewindblewcoverDr. Wolfgang Pike would love nothing more than to finish the requiem he’s composing for his late wife, but the ending seems as hopeless as the patients dying a hundred yards away at the Waverly Hills tuberculosis sanatorium.  If he can’t ease his own pain with music, Wolfgang tries to ease theirs–the harmonica soothes and the violin relaxes.  But his boss thinks his “musical medicine” is a waste, and in 1920s Louisville, the specter of racial tension looms over everything.

When a former concert pianist checks in, Wolfgang begins to believe that music can change the fortunes of those on the hill.  Soon Wolfgang finds himself in the center of an orchestra that won’t give up, forced to make a choice that will alter his life forever.

Set against a fascinatingly real historical backdrop, A White Wind Blew raises compelling questions about faith and confession, music and medicine, and the resilience of love.

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“. . . Hauntingly lyrical narrative with operatic overtones . . . a soaring tribute to the resiliency of life in the face of death.”  Booklist

“. . . Absorbing historical . . . Markert displays great imagination in describing the rivalries, friendships, and intense relationships among the often quirky and cranky terminally ill, and the way that a diagnosis, or even a cure, can upset delicate dynamics.”  Publishers Weekly

“. . . The author’s ability to weigh competing views against each other, and the all-too real human complications are presented with a remarkable understanding of conflicting ideas that even make villains human eventually.”  BookPage

“James Markert skillfully weaves together medicine and history,  a tragic love story, and a spiritual investigation into the relationship between faith and music.  The result is a compelling and thought-provoking novel that will move and inspire readers of all kinds.”  John Burnham Schwartz, author of Reservation Road and Northwest Corner.

“James Markert tells a story of the triumph of music and faith in a dead-end place of despair and loneliness called Waverly Hills.  Beautifully told, A White Wind Blew is set in a time when the Klan and racism openly thrived.  With a historian’s eye for detail, Markert spins his story in a world where men and women were healed and made whole.”   Robert Hicks, author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country.

“Set in the time of Prohibition and segregation, this novel brings to life the desperation of the plague that as yet had no cure. . . I couldn’t put down this story of a doctor’s struggle with faith, hope, and healing.  In the end, I not only learned about that time in history, but it vividly came alive.”  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“James Markert has taken the exceptional and amazing setting of “one of the scariest places on earth”, the Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Sanatorium, and produced an absorbing novel about the place, its inhabitants, and the times.”  The Louisville Courier-Journal

“Music, a TB sanatorium, racism, love–what more could one want in a novel?  Markert combines them all in A White Wind Blew, in a dramatic, beguiling tale that brings you right into its core.”  Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT.