No suspense, but ‘Soul Catcher’ touching tale of life before Civil War

  • By Natasha Robinson Associated Press
  • Saturday, August 25, 2007 12:06pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Michael White fuses historical fact with fiction in his latest book, “Soul Catcher,” to weave a story about life, love and the uncontrollable events that link the two in the era before the Civil War.

Augustus Cain, wounded in the Mexican-American War and from a lost love, is a slave catcher. It is a life, he says, that picked him and not one he chose.

Cain becomes indebted to a plantation owner named Eberly after losing a game of poker. Eberly offers Cain a chance to work off his debt by capturing two runaway slaves, Henry and Rosetta. Eberly warns Cain that Rosetta is not to be harmed in any way. So Cain heads North with three other men to kidnap the slaves and return them to Richmond, Va. They find them and begin their journey back.

Henry bolts one night and three of the men chase after him, leaving Cain and Rosetta to continue on to Richmond by themselves, dodging bullets and abolitionists.

It is during this voyage that Cain and Rosetta form a deep connection. He discovers that she is pregnant with Eberly’s child and he begins to question if he should return her to slavery.

White, an acclaimed New York Times notable author for “A Brothers Blood,” tells us there is an uncontrollable element behind each life event. “Soul Catcher” is a story about life more than it is about love. But White crafts his story in such a way that strips the plot of all suspense: From the beginning of the book, you can pretty much see what’s coming.

Still, his dialogue and good use of detail lend an authenticity to the characters and the era. And he sets up a beautiful page turner in the last few chapters.

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