Ed Protzel

Genre-stretching novelist — Author of darkly ironic fiction

Filtering by Tag: Southern gothic

Introducing Devereau French, the other main protagonist in The Lies that Bind

In my last blog, we met Durk Hurst, aka “Dark Horse,” the main protagonist in my darkly ironic antebellum South mystery/drama, The Lies that Bind, Turkle, Mississippi, 1859-61. Now I want you to meet Devereau French, the novel’s second protagonist and Durk’s “reluctant” nemesis.

Second protagonist? Yes. The Lies that Bind is unique in many ways, and having two conflicting, sympathetic main characters is one of them. (Incidentally, the novel has been acquired by TouchPoint Press and is due to be published this year.)

The novel revolves around a cast of outsiders, and no one is more of an outsider than the enigmatic Devereau French—not even Durk. Because of Devereau’s position as, technically, the richest landowner with the most slaves in the region, you wouldn’t normally consider him an outsider. But Devereau isn’t living a “normal” life—as you will discover.

Slave shack, circa 1860

Slave shack, circa 1860

In fact, Devereau is more of a prisoner, more trapped, than his own slaves, whom he often envies! Lightly freckled and frail, with cropped auburn hair, Devereau, at thirty-one, has soft, rosy cheeks. Indeed, his “slight stature gives one the sense of an adolescent boy, not a mature man.

 It is with good reason that the Turkle townsfolk call Devereau “the loneliest man on Earth.” Yes, poor Devereau: his darkest secret—one of many—is tearing him apart, driving him to fits of severe melancholy, to contemplate both murder and suicide, and to desperate actions.

 When we first see him he is in tears, about to bury the three-year-old child his mother “adopted” for him to ensure the family’s legacy. This is necessary because, according to rumor, Devereau has “never had a wife nor even a sweetheart.” Devereau needs love more than anything in the world, but the life he is trapped in makes that dream nearly impossible to achieve. As the novel’s tangled webs of deceit unravel, you will be surprised when you learn why—but maybe you’ll have suspected all along?

 As owner of French Acres, Devereau rules the town by fear, but the townsfolk fear his mother, not him. When Durk Hurst appears, it is in the interest of the French family to eliminate him and steal the land Durk has swindled from a mad Chickasaw chief. So why is Devereau so reluctant to eliminate, perhaps even murder, the interloper? Hint: It may not be what you think.

Up Next: Given that last week was the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death, I thought it fitting to pay homage to the man who inspired this country to its better angels—a struggle that continues to this day.

In Two Weeks: Meet Devereau’s mother, the reclusive Missus Marie Brussard French, the master manipulator who attempts to control his life.

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Publication date to be announced soon!

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Watch for publication of Ed’s novel, The Lies that Bind (TouchPoint Press, 2015), a darkly ironic antebellum mystery/drama set in Turkle, Mississippi, 1859-61.

Ed Protzel’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone. Blog copyrighted by Ed Protzel © 2015.

Introducing Durksen Hurst, main protagonist in Ed Protzel’s novel, The Lies that Bind

Welcome to my blog. Over time, I’ll be introducing you to the world inhabited by the characters of my upcoming historical novel, The Lies that Bind, a darkly ironic antebellum mystery/drama set in Turkle, Mississippi, 1859-61, where no one is who they pretend to be and more than anyone can imagine. The novel has been acquired by TouchPoint Press and is due to be published this year. I can’t wait! 

The story revolves around a cast of outsiders trying to find their humanity during a dark time in our nation’s history, just before the Civil War. It deals with issues of class, race, and gender, with people enslaved and seemingly free—all seeking love and respect. 

As the story’s tangled webs of deceit unravel, each startling plot twist and cathartic revelation shines a fresh light on what it means to be a man, a woman, free or enslaved—indeed, what it means to be human. My website tells you more about it. 

But first, let me introduce you to Durksen Hurst, aka “Dark Horse,” the primary protagonist in The Lies that Bind. (I say “primary” because one of the novel’s unique features is two competing, but sympathetic, main characters.) It’s 1859 when we first meet Durk Hurst who is being pursued on his roan horse through a Mississippi swamp—and not for the first time—his fancy Memphis-bought suit mud-splattered and torn, his body and mind past exhaustion. 

Naturally, he is despondent. This visionary hustler believed his most recent scheme would have helped dirt-poor farmers throughout the South—and, of course, made him rich in the process. But here he is at forty, at a dead end, having “fallen into the pit where all his sky-high dreams and clever plans, his fine-figuring and fast-talking inevitably left him broke, desperate, and alone.” 

In the swamp, Durk encounters a dozen slaves, stranded, whose safest course may be to sink his body into the bayou. But, alas, Durk has a plan for all of them; one based on an “imaginary” plantation, a potentially fatal partnership made possible by his private disgust with slavery. Naturally, his future “partners” are skeptical. When they accuse him of being a charlatan, he replies that, yes, he’s “had to play the charlatan, though always an honest one,” one who’s “never told a lie I didn’t believe in myself.”  

Now which of us wouldn’t trust this man with our life? Well, they were so desperate, they had no choice. Incredibly, a number of Durk’s magnificent scams turn that plantation idea into a real employee-owned enterprise. 

Durk Hurst never has fit in anywhere; doesn’t even look like other people. He’s half Seminole. Nor do his attitudes toward society fit in either. And his imagination, well, his imagination could be his undoing.  

Unfortunately, the ambitious scamp is never satisfied. His uncontrollable dreams lead to further wild schemes that put the partners’ lives in jeopardy. And their peril only increases dramatically when the advent of the Civil War throws a monkey wrench into their biggest scam yet. Still a lonely visionary with a mind of his own, Durk has the temerity to oppose the town’s rabid rush to war, which gets him branded a traitor.  

Whoa, can he get himself out of this one? 

Come along with Durk in The Lies that Bind as he and his partners pull off one glorious gambit after another in the hamlet of Turkle, Mississippi, more a microcosm of our own world than we’d care to admit. See this interloper take on the wealthy and powerful French family, some of the strangest protagonists in literature, who are concealing their own fatal charades. Experience the drama, irony, humor, and terror as the facades of both sides unravel—one a clue at a time. 

Publication date to be announced soon!
Next Up: Meet Durk’s nemesis, Devereau French 

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Watch for publication of Ed’s novel, The Lies that Bind (TouchPoint Press, 2015), a darkly ironic antebellum mystery/drama set in Turkle, Mississippi, 1859-61. Ed Protzel’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone. Blog copyrighted by Ed Protzel © 2015.

© Copyright 2017 Ed Protzel