THE ANGELS’ SHARE by James Markert
A few weeks ago I was watching television, or in truth just flipping channels. I happened upon someone talking about how to make whiskey. I don’t know why I lingered to hear what he had to say but I did. The man was talking about “the angels’ share” which is the amount of whiskey that evaporates from barrels while the whiskey is aging. He said it could be as much as two per cent of the original content.
A few days later I received a copy of a book titled THE ANGELS’ SHARE. It is a novel about the distillery business. It came to me at just the right time because I wanted to see what the book had to say about the evaporated whiskey going to the angels. As soon as I read the first page I was seized by the story. It concerns a family in the 1930’s who own a distillery. A tragedy has fallen on the McFee family and the distillery has been shut down.
Prohibition took away the family income and the patriarch of the family hanged himself. His son Barley still lives at the homeplace with his wife Samantha and sons William and Johnny. They also have a daughter Annie. There was another son, Henry, but he died in a car accident and the family is still mourning him.
William dreams of reopening the distillery but his father has no interest in doing any such thing. So William turns his attention to trying to be a journalist. He sees the makings of a story when a stranger is buried in the Potter’s Field near his home. William does not know the poor person being buried but he is intrigued by the group of twelve that mourn him.
Upon investigation he learns the man’s name was Asher Keating and the twelve mourning him expect some sort of miracle within three days of his death. One of the twelve is a young woman named Polly who catches William’s eye. She is the one who first tells him the story of Asher, who was the center of strange occurrences. He seemed to have the power of healing which made some think he was the second coming of Christ.
William’s investigation of the life of Asher Keating is the heart of the book. His pursuit of the history of the man leads him to learn more and more about his own family, for the McFee’s and Keating do have a past relationship.
This novel is written by James Markert and it is a story he formulated with skill and care. He draws you to William and later to the entire McFee group. He adds other characters throughout the story who become important, and the reader comes to care for them too. They are all people you want to know more and more about as you quickly read the pages.
I had never heard of Mr. Markert but he certainly knows how to sell his story. He is inventive with his plot which keeps the reader guessing till the very end. He also throws in many facts about the making of whiskey, even to the way it feels sliding down one’s throat.
Some books I search out to review. This one came to me perhaps on angels’ wings. I know I am fortunate to have discovered it as I thoroughly enjoyed everything about its characters and their story.
THE ANGELS’ SHARE is published by Thomas Nelsons. It contains 320 pages and sells for $15.99.
Jackie K Cooper