Monday 28 October 2019



Desperate times call for desperate measures in Kalteis's lightning-fast crime caper story

Sonny and Clara Myers struggle on their Kansas farm in the late 1930s, a time the Lord gave up on: their land's gone dry, barren, and worthless; the bankers are greedy and hungry, trying to squeeze them and other farmers out of their homes; and, on top of that, their marriage is in trouble. The couple can struggle and wither along with the land or surrender to the bankers and hightail it to California like most of the others. Clara is all for leaving, but Sonny refuses to abandon the family farm.

In a fit of temper, she takes off westward in their old battered truck. Alone on the farm and determined to get back Clara and the good old days, Sonny comes up with an idea, a way to keep his land and even prosper while giving the banks a taste of their own misery. He sets the scheme in motion under the cover of the commotion being caused by a rainmaker hired by the mayor to call down the thunder and wash away everyone's troubles.

Another outing with one of my favourite Canadian authors and a trip to 30s drought-ridden Kansas were times are hard for all except the bankers.

Farmers, drought, recession, depression and repossession, marital difficulties for our main couple - Sonny and Clara, a choice between joining the crowd and cutting and running or toughing it out in the hope that fortunes will turn. Clara dreams crushed and worn out by poverty, runs but doesn't get too far, a broken down truck and into the arms of a rain-maker, while Sonny schemes with some friends to pull a bank job; all the while some close brothers of the Klan meet and threaten and burn crosses and terrorise. It's not too long before the couple are reconciled with Clara returning home, still feisty and wanting for more.

Added to the mix a travelling carnival who's owner is in hock to a vicious and impatient money-lender, struggling to pay the myriad of freaks and outsiders on the payroll let alone the vig on his debt and there are some incendiary ingredients ripe for explosion. Sadly in more ways than one, an explosion is what we get.

Tough times and a tough book. Not dissimilar in some ways to the present day - the disparity between the haves and have nots, the ones who offer the most in the ways of kindness and compassion are those usually with the least to give, angry times giving rise to irrational extremism where the black, the Catholic, the Jew, the freak, the outsider is the scapegoat - the obvious cause of everyone's ills.

No happy endings here. Another captivating read from Dietrich Kalteis.

4.5 from 5

Call Down the Thunder is the author's seventh book and the sixth I've enjoyed. House of Blazes still sits on the pile. Previously enjoyed and highly recommended....

Ride the Lightning
Poughkeepsie Shuffle

Read - October, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 325
Source - review copy from author
Format - PDF read on laptop


  1. I really like the setting and context for this one, Col. And it sounds as though he's got the right balance of historical information and actual plot/characters. Glad you enjoyed.

    1. Margot, I'm not always so fond of novels set in the past, but this one worked extremely well for me.

  2. He is a terrific writer and this is one I will be getting.

  3. I do like happy endings. Oh well. Someday (soon I hope) I will read Kalteis's first book which I do have.

    1. Tracy, I look forward to your reaction to Kalteis's work - when you get there, of course!