‘A Passel of Trouble’ author Epley to hold book signing Saturday

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Taut. Gritty. Riveting. Compelling. A must read for those seeking well-written fact-based fiction.

Those words partially illuminate former Green Beret Joe Epley’s second telling of the story of the brutal Revolutionary War fought in the Carolinas, “A Passel of Trouble,” available on Amazon.com. Joe Epley will host a book signing at The Book Shelf in Tryon beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16. 12-16passeloftrouble

This sequel not only lives up to the author-historian’s impressive debut novel of 2013, “A Passel of Hate,” it adds dimensions and perspectives that reflect diligent research, soul-searching, and attention to craft that enshrine him as one of the most significant chroniclers of Revolutionary War history.

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The Tryon, N.C. author spins this remarkable saga through the eyes of real characters, and his fertile mind makes the entire read exciting, and believable.

Epley bravely tells the story from the Loyalist viewpoint without prejudice – he leaves it to readers to side with and root for the Americans fighting for independence, and the liberty all Americans enjoy today. 

The novel’s hero (or anti-hero, depending on one’s point-of-view) is real-life partisan Loyalist David Fanning, notorious in the annals of this war’s history for cunning, tactical brilliance, and audacious actions.

From the moment that young David Fanning crawled out of the muck that harbored his emaciated, tortured and near-dead body in 1770, through his seven-year evolution into the most feared and accomplished Loyalist leader of the Revolutionary War in the Carolinas, the drama literally leaps from the pages of this 422-page novel.

The sequences frame actual battles, but the realistic dialogue, interactions and expressed emotions are those posed by the master storyteller.

The story begins with the initial 1775 battle pitting backcountry Loyalists against neighboring revolutionaries, through the British evacuation from Charles Town (Charleston, S.C.) in 1782.

Fanning fought in the first battle in the south and then went on the run for three years, except for the 14 times he was captured by Patriot forces. His escapes were especially remarkable because of his ability to survive in backcountry wilderness. He often hid out along the Green River, now a part of Polk County, N.C. 

Fanning’s last two war years were fought in central North Carolina, where his leadership and exploits won praise from the British, and caused dread among Americans fighting for independence. 

Epley does not spare the reader as he relentlessly and graphically portrays the unspeakable cruelties of war, and of the humans who conduct them. He insightfully apportions charges of avarice and greed in equal measure in this noble/ignoble example of war making, and war mongering.

Historian James Watterson in his biography of Governor Thomas Burke wrote: “Fanning’s tactics defied suppression. His clandestine movements, executed usually by night over remote and difficult terrain, were exceptionally hard to contain.”

Epley’s paean to our forbearers clearly reflects the savage intensity and patriotism in that first war, however partisan, and graphically memorializes why its blood-soaked battlefield soil is forever sacred to this nation.

And Epley’s historian voice seamlessly merges the brutality and gore of the war with his humanitarian voice that pays homage to the sanctity of nature – before it is despoiled by man. Neither aspect dominates the other.

That the war no doubt was waged very closely to the way Epley describes it is to his credit, as both a novelist and an historian.

  article submitted by Jack J. Prather