Brant Randall,
Blood Harvest
(Capital Crime Press, 2008)

The Ku Klux Klan is not only active in the South, but all over the U.S. Brant Randall has written a novel, Blood Harvest, which is partly based on factual events from the 1920s. Brant might be telling a fictional murder-mystery tale, but he does a fine job of expressing the small time country feel of rural Massachusetts in 1929.

The MacKay clan practically owns Potemkin County. Led by "Granny," the matriarch of this clan, these moonshining entrepreneurs have maintained a pretty good living during Prohibition. Of course, nothing is perfect. Granny's youngest daughter Mary Elizabeth ran away across the county line with an Italian immigrant, if you can believe that. They had a son some 15 years ago, and it was this child that caused the chain of events that unfolds in this book. On a dare, Angus returns to the land where everyone hates anyone who's non-Anglo -- and that includes Angus since everyone knows Southern Europeans aren't white. So when some of Granny's other relations find this half-Italian Angus copping a feel with her 13-year-old granddaughter, it isn't surprising that all hell breaks loose.

Within short order, we have three corpses. Who hung and burned the Italian in a clearing in the woods? Why was the head of the Kluxers in the region found killed, buried, unburied and attacked again after death? And who shot that crow?

Now, if you go back two paragraphs, you might have noticed that Angus is Granny's grandson, which makes him the cousin of this girl he was getting cozy with. I bet you thought that this only happens in Kentucky ... and Alabama ... and Mississippi, and all them other places. Apparently it happens up in Massachusetts, too. But that isn't what makes this novel such a hoot to read. What makes this book is the first-person narrative style. The reader sees the story unfold through the eyes of several participants. Sometimes you relive an event through a new perspective. Sometimes you get another piece of the puzzle. And sometimes you get to find out what dogs and crows really think of people.

Brant Randall has a Ph.D. in communications and teaches at Woodbury University in Los Angeles. He has served as a consultant on many independent feature films. It is obvious from this book that he has quite the (sick) sense of humor.

Blood Harvest is a very funny, quick-reading story of love, hate, murder, intrigue, politics and Hollywood ambition. I have seen only a few novels that bounce around between all the participants explaining the tale from their individual points of view. I have always enjoyed this technique. I find it amusing to see how different characters view each other. People in general fail to see their own flaws whereas they could quickly point out those of the folks around them.

Murder is a serious subject. The hate and actions of the KKK are deplorable. Yet, I found myself chuckling several times every chapter -- and these chapters are short! The themes of the novel are a little bit adult and the humor definitely male, I would think. But I can definitely say there is an audience for Blood Harvest. It was highly entertaining.

review by
Wil Owen

21 June 2008

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