“Their Feet Run to Evil” is a police procedural/mystery set in rural Arkansas in the late 1950s. Chief of police, Ray Elmore, a man broken by the horrors he witnessed in the war in the Pacific, returns home to a world that he no longer understands. When a young black girl disappears while walking home one night from a church social, “Big Ray” Elmore finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery---one that bears striking similarities to another young girl’s death from his own past.
Plot: A young Black girl named Esther King goes missing in the town of Split Tree, Arkansas and it's up to Chief Big Ray Elmore to uncover the truth. Haunted by his past, Big Ray is determined to find answers as he struggles with racism, unsavory characters, and his own demons in this Southern-fried whodunit.
Prose/Style: Holland's prose leaves no doubt as to where and when the story is taking place, yet somehow manages to not be heavy-handed or hard to read. Instead, he cleverly inserts the reader into Big Ray's world seamlessly, creating a story that is both clearly told and enjoyable to read.
Originality: Holland's take on a mystery/thriller is far from unique; however, he manages to weave a well-told period piece that reflects the tensions of a small Southern town. The reader is Big Ray's constant companion as he struggles to unravel the mystery of Esther Alice's murder, culminating in a revelatory confession at the end.
Character Development/Execution: The characters are well-written, especially Big Ray, whose struggles to be a good man and husband make him both flawed and relatable. Overall, Holland adeptly creates a community whose cast of characters, while sometimes stereotypical, still capture the reader's imagination and add merit to the story's atmosphere and overall plot.
Date Submitted: April 08, 2021
Their Feet Run to Evil is a novel within the police procedural sub-genre, but as we follow police chief and veteran Big Ray Elmore through the many twists of the story, it feels more and more like a psychological drama, and a brilliant one at that. One of the most enjoyable things about this novel was how well developed both the characters and relationships were; all the relationships were dynamic and engaging and felt real. Protagonist Ray Elmore was a charming and fascinating character to follow. I enjoyed learning about his past and present and felt he had a distinctive perspective setting him apart. Author Thomas Holland does a magnificent job of weaving information and description throughout the story, allowing us as readers to learn alongside the characters. The mystery itself was colorful and well thought out, with clues dropped cleverly throughout the plot. I would not hesitate to recommend this novel to fans of dynamic murder mystery books, and interesting, three-dimensional characters.
This is a spellbinding mystery that is perfectly told. The protagonist is a reluctant war hero, a man who still suffers from the trauma of war. He is a character that is genuinely flawed and one that readers can easily connect to. The plot is cleverly written; the narrative is suspenseful, a quality of writing that makes for a page-turner. The descriptions are powerful and I enjoyed how Thomas D. Holland captures elements of the setting. The sleuth work in this novel is brilliantly written and I loved the drama, the spot-on questions in the investigation. The characters are fleshed-out and the plot is fully drawn. The story is emotional and nuanced, a fitting entry into the mystery and murder genres that will enthrall readers. It is deftly crafted, with a protagonist that kept my full attention. Their Feet Run to Evil: A Big Ray Elmore Novel is a story with all the key elements any reader wants in a crime mystery.