By: Randall Silvis
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: 1/1/2018
My Rating: 5 Stars When family man and war veteran Russell loses his job as a quarry worker, his life suddenly seems more like a waking nightmare than a chance to finally live the American dream. Facing bills, a new baby, and a bone-dry bank account, he’s got nothing left to lose. Russell comes to the rescue of a naked stranger dancing in the rain, and what was supposed to be a straightforward good deed turns into a spiral of danger. When Russell finds an enticing stash of money in the woman’s house, he knows the cash could be his only hope. Taking just a handful will save his family’s future.
His “victimless crime” seems to be anything but risky—until the criminals he robbed come looking for their dirty money. Russell’s ready to surrender it, but then his daughter gets sick…and he must choose between saving her or giving the devils their due. Someone’s going to pay. The question is, how much?
From the internationally acclaimed author and gifted storyteller, a master of complicated human souls— Randall Silvis bring readers his latest, ONLY THE RAIN —a gripping and emotional story of an ordinary man faced with a split second decision, leading to dire consequences. One which could change the course of his life and those near and dear to him.
A short book (read in one sitting), a remarkable heart-rendering blending of literary, drama, mystery, suspense, and psychological thriller. Most importantly, as with all Randall Silvis’ books, THOUGHT-PROVOKING and INSIGHTFUL.
The author's lyrical prose is "spellbinding" drawing you into the raw and emotional world of his characters. A given—numerous highlighted, bookmarked, pages and passages.
Told in the form of email entries written from a man searching for answers to his good friend and Army buddy from Iraq, Spencer. (has been six years since he has seen him), the story unravels.
“Thing is, there’s just too much I have to tell somebody, and nobody else I can tell it to.”
Back from Iraq, Russell Blystone is an average guy. A former soldier still haunted with dreams and nightmares from the war. The horrific experiences continue to make him feel helpless and guilty. He continues to fight his demons even back home, attempting to live a regular life.
“Personally, I’ve come to believe that theories are of small value when it comes to actually living your life, to making all the hard decisions you have to make and then dealing with the consequences of those decisions.”
Russell now has a family. A wife (Cindy), and two daughters (Dani and Emma). Another baby on the way. He has a secret. He must tell someone. The computer is his only outlet and email communication (even though he may not send).
He is too ashamed to tell his wife and his Pops. Pops and Gee, the grandparents who raised him after his mother died. Gee passed on a year ago, and now Pops is living at Brookside Manor, an independent living facility. They are very close.
He got himself into this mess, and he has to get out.
Pops is strong, funny, witty, wise, and caring. (loved his character). He has a smile that lights up a room. Russell cannot tell Pops what he has done. Russell loves his Pops and respects him. (enjoyed the interaction with other residents).
Pops and Gee would be ashamed of him. However, if he cannot figure a way out of this, he may have no other choice but to tell Pops. Pops, also a veteran from the Vietnam War understands the horrors of war. However, will he be so understanding of his most recent actions?
Cindy, Russell’s wife (a bank teller) has not had a comfortable life. A drug dealing abusive low-life dad (Donnie) and mother, Janice. She managed to escape. However, he continues to try to worm his way back into their lives. They keep their children away from him.
Here is where the nightmare began:
Russell and Cindy finally have their home and trying to live a healthy family life. He has just lost his job at the plant which is being shut down. He does not want to tell his wife yet since she worries so much.
Due to her past and the current pregnancy, he wants to try and find another job before he causes her more stress. He wants her to feel safe and secure. He still has a few weeks to wrap up the situation before the Chinese take over.
In the blink of an eye, his life would go from secure and hopeful to being one step away from homeless. Without health insurance, the mortgage, utilities, taxes, and a family of four to feed.
With Cindy's bank job, the income would be of little help without his salary. He is stressed. He cannot let his family down. With minimal jobs in the area, he must keep this a secret until he lands another job.
It is raining one day, and he is on his motorcycle. Due to the traffic, he takes a different route. He passes a worn down house when he sees a woman dancing naked in the rain with Gregg Allman music playing loudly in the background.
She seems to have fallen, and a pit bull is chained nearby. Out in the middle of nowhere. He must make a decision. To keep going on the slippery road, or turn around and stop to help the girl.
At first, he decides to keep going, but then again he thinks she needs help. He turns around. He helps someone who does not want help.
Always spells TROUBLE.
The girl seems to be strung out on drugs. When he stops and carries her inside, she is wet and muddy and appears to be alone. He tells her she needs to get in the shower. She is in the other room, and when he pulls back the shower curtain, he sees four cardboard boxes with duct tape. He lifts off the lid and sees bundles of cash.
A drugged woman trying to seduce him, and cash. Fear, panic, excitement. Should he leave it, or take it. Most likely the money was from drug dealing. Who would know if he grabbed it? Just one box. The money would help him pay the bills until he found another job. It would save his family.
This one impulsive decision would haunt him. He was no better than a typical thief. Shame. Grief. Fear. Disgust. The war before and the battle waging within him now. A strong need to feel loved and safe. Thinking about the same decisions he made during the battles in Iraq.
Why did he take the money and what was he going to do with it? His daughter gets sick, and he has to use the money to pay the hospital bill. Now what?
Then the worst happens. His boot prints. The drug dealers. He needs more than Spence. He needs his Pop. He has to tell him. To help figure a way out. A strategy. Pop's storage unit.
Now the drug dealers are on his trail, and his low life father in law Donnie is involved. In a race against time, he has placed his family, his Pops, and himself in the middle of impending danger. A race against time.
What is his exit strategy? He needs to be the kind of husband and father Pops had been. What about plans A, B, and C. The Domino Catastrophe Theory. The dominoes do not stop falling.
An ordinary man struggling, trying to do the right thing during childhood, college, adulthood, the army, marriage, and parenthood. Stealing the money involved his entire family in one way or another. He lost his job and when he saw the money he thought this was the answer.
Secrets and lies always have a way of snowballing. The day of reckoning. The McClain brothers are an extension of Iraq. As if the same war.
“Is it possible to hate something you did and to hate yourself for doing it, yet still be glad you did it?”
With gut-wrenching intensity, action-packed ONLY THE RAIN draws you into a realistic world of one man’s choices and consequences. Crossing ethical lines to save his family. A man, struggling with his inner demons.
What makes this story so absorbing (in addition to the correspondence to Spence), his friend— is the heartwarming and intricate relationship between Pops and Russell.
Life. “You gain, you lose. You win you fail. You spin, you die." “Spin and die, To live a butterfly again.”
I adore Randall Silvis’ writing style. In addition to the digital copy, also purchased the audiobook, narrated by Eric G. Dove for an engaging performance.
Be sure and add to your reading list, Walking the Bones, coming Jan 23, 2018. A second book in the series. Another 5 star! Blog Tour Host, Jan 23. Enter a book giveaway contest starting Jan 15-Feb 1. Working on my review now. Top Books of 2018.
If you enjoy sophisticated and intelligent thrillers with a literary flair, highly recommend this author. There is another author who is one of my favorites,T. Greenwood. These two authors have a remarkable talent for storytelling. Both authors have a rare gift of making you fall magically in love with their words. Also, check out her upcoming book (Aug 2018) Rust & Stardust.
If you enjoyed ONLY THE RAIN, recommend James Hankins’ Shady Cross and Dennis Lehane's Since We Fell.
If you missed this Kindle First read during Dec, you should grab it now. In e-book, hardcover, and audio formats. Highly Recommend.
Jan Top Reads
Out now, Only the Rain is a tense, fast-moving psychological suspense novel about a decent, average guy who, in a moment of desperation, makes a choice that threatens to destroy his entire family. The story had its genesis in Silvis’ novella “The Indian,” which was selected for inclusion in Best American Mystery Stories 2013 where Lisa Scottoline, editor of the anthology, called it “not only lean, [but] positively muscular, and the prose so clean that it borders on poetry…even as the plot charges toward its horrific conclusion [with] pitch-perfect dialogue, without a wasted word…. What a story!”.
Only the Rain" is the type of novel that rocks the reader to the core and keeps her turning pages all night long. Silvis is a gifted storyteller. He breathes life into each of the characters, making them pop from the page. His beautiful prose shines, adding an elegance to the reading experience. 'Only the Rain' is a keeper-shelf book.” -Serena Jayne, "Love Across the Universe"
About the Author
Randall Silvis is the internationally acclaimed author of over a dozen novels, one story collection, and one book of narrative nonfiction. Also a prize-winning playwright, a produced screenwriter, and a prolific essayist, he has been published and produced in virtually every field and genre of creative writing. His numerous essays, articles, poems and short stories have appeared in the Discovery Channel magazines, The Writer, Prism International, Short Story International, Manoa, and numerous other online and print magazines. His work has been translated into 10 languages.
Silvis’s many literary awards include two writing fellowships from the National
Endowment for the Arts, the prestigious Drue Heinz Literature Prize, a Fulbright Senior Scholar Research Award, six fellowships for his fiction, drama, and screenwriting from the Pennsylvania Council On the Arts, and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree awarded for “distinguished literary achievement.”