In the few days they spend together, the makeshift trio commits a shocking murder that soon has the forces of the law bearing down upon them. Sent to pick up their trail, a probing French tracker named Le Clerc must decide which has a greater claim: swift justice or his own curiosity about how three such disparate, desperate men could act in unison.In 1788 three men converge in the southern woods of what is now Alabama: Cat, an emotionally scarred white man; Bob, a garrulous black man fleeing slavery; and Istillicha, who seeks retribution after being edged out of his Creek town’s leadership.
Katy Simpson Smith skillfully brings into focus men whose lives are both catastrophic and full of hope—and illuminates the beating heart of a new America. A captivating exploration of how four men grapple with the importance of family, the stain of guilt, and the competing forces of power, love, race, and freedom.
Taking her readers back into the wild and wooly days of a fledgling America, author Katy Simpson Smith delivers a well-crafted and fascinating novel of what is, in essence, a historical "road" trip.
No, there's no beer and bubba jokes - this is a serious work of fiction that follows four men, three of who are escaping to futures unknown, one woman who is left behind, and one man who is searching for every one of them for both the reward, and out of a burning curiosity of his own. Smith does a great job of creating a cast of characters that are intriguing, as well as a setting that is a forgotten piece of history for many.
Readers will enjoy the fast pace of the story as each character's backstory is narrated in their own voices. I highly recommend "Free Men" to those who enjoy literary fiction as well as a bit of history as well.
- Photo credit: Elise Smith
About Katy Simpson Smith
My thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour and to Harper Collins for providing the review copy of the book. I was not compensated for my opinion.