I couldn’t help it. The first time I heard the title of Glenn Carter’s third novel, “Soldier Boy” (Flanker Press) the Shirelles began singing their 1962 hit in my noggin — “Soldier boy, oh my little soldier boy, I’ll be true to you.”
Then, sure enough, on page 25 Sarah and Kallum share the old tune after a time of intimacy before Kallum ships out to the Gulf War.
“It’s our song now. Soldier boy,” says Sarah.
So, there’s the book’s title, and it works — “Soldier Boy”, a novel of reincarnation, redemption, and revenge.
B’ys, I hope the author will forgive me for this anecdote I scribble about his hope for the cover’s illustration.
Firstly, the cover’s design and art work are top notch, impressively done. The soldier boy’s face floats in the sky, dark waves break on the rocks, and a woman dressed in a flowing white gown stands on the shore gazing out to sea.
About the woman …
I chatted with the author while final decisions were being made about his novel’s cover. He told me he’d made only one request of his publisher regarding the physical appearance of the woman in the flowing gown — that she have …
For frig sake, I can’t risk revealing the author’s request because it might violate some author/publisher privacy that I’m too stump-stund to be aware of and might be reason enough for them to banish me with rocks.
I will say this — Glenn b’y, I’ve sized-up the woman in the long white dress to see if the publisher granted your request. As far as I can tell — as far as I can imagine — considering how the dress falls in a seductive curve along the woman’s hip, that the publisher paid some attention to your desires regarding her fundament.
Should I duck and dodge for fear of hurled stones?
I’ve said elsewhere that I’m envious of young whipper-snappers — young from my vintage perspective anyway — who write quality yarns. Nonetheless, I say without a smidgen of covetousness that Glenn Carter’s Soldier Boy deserves a top shelf display in bookstores …
… or better yet, an eye-level display. Sometimes, if the top shelf is taller than prospective readers, it’s too crippling on the neck to study the titles.
What’s the book about?
It’s about a young fellow named Samuel Bolt whose birth occurred under certain “strange” circumstances. He was reared up in an orphanage and now lives among the homeless people of Las Vegas.
That’s right, the homeless of Las Vegas.
Samuel has inexplicable abilities that guarantee him luck with Vegas’ gambling machines — luck he shares with the unfortunate. Samuel also has perplexing dreams, tormenting visions and emotions that have haunted him all his life.
In search of some explanation of his troublesome visions, Samuel travels to Harbour Rock, a town just up the shore from Boston if I’m not mistaken. There he meets people who — for reasons he doesn’t understand — seem to recognize him.
A taxi driver drops Samuel off at Diana Doody’s Bed and Breakfast. It’s no surprise that Diana Doody thinks Samuel looks like her son Kallum who was killed in the Gulf War.
Oh, sorry. It’s not really a spoiler, but earlier I was so caught up with the woman in the flowing dress that I failed to mention that Kallum, the soldier boy, is killed overseas.
Samuel also meets Sarah, Kallum’s wife at the time of his death.
Truly, Sarah of the flowing white dress, who is sure Samuel is …
… well, this is a story about reincarnation, so you read between the lines.
Get this — Sarah is now married to Billy Rutter, Kallum’s erstwhile friend who returned from the Gulf War unharmed.
Billy Rutter — presidential candidate Senator William Rutter — a despicable piece of work.
Imagine the tangle of characters and conflict in Harbour Rock. Not to worry though, Carter deftly guides his readers through the various intrigues until …
… well, until the end of the story, of course.
Some reader might question why Glenn Carter, a Newfoundlander born and reared from ancestral Newfoundland stock has set his story up in The States.
The setting works, so I say what odds about it.
All the same, Carter consciously sows reminders of his roots. For instance, Harbour Rock is a fishing community not unlike one that could be found in Newfoundland.
There’s one easy-to-miss seed of back home that is so subtle I wonder if Carter unconsciously dropped it on the page.
At one point, Kallum is asked this question: “Did you ask Miss Babb to dance?”
Kallum answers: “We had a scuff.”
Had a scuff! B’ys, do they scuff up in The Sates?
Thank you for reading.
Harold Walters lives in Dunville, Newfoundland, doing his damnedest to live Happily Ever After. Reach him at email@example.com