A story of subterfuge, murder and atonement
An illegitimate son, born in Germany in the first half of the nineteenth century, raised in aristocratic wealth by a well-to-do family, seizes the opportunity to escape to America, bringing a new identity, passing to his descendants a pretense of European nobility. Ninety years later, the lives of three young men intersect in Bordeau, Missouri, the community founded by the German immigrant.
In 1937, his great grandson, Jakob Kellermann IV, age 25, thrust into ownership of the family enterprise, searches to uncover the mysterious truth about his ancestors. Roger Gray Rock, age 18, a multitalented youth, struggles with emotional stress induced by the death of his parents. Gino Messino, age 25, an arrogant opportunist hungers for power and prestige. Hovering in the background, lawyer Ernest Quigley manipulates their lives for his own benefit.
An Appreciation by John & Linda Lipman:"The real pleasure of this book lies in developing characters with supporting roles who portray insightful people in real life situations. Jakob's alleged great-grandfather who built the distillery one stone at a time; his son who took over and made a business of it; his grandson, inspired by his grandfather's craft and terrorized by the reality of management during those troubled times.
"These characters, and many others, contain much of the real power of this novel. Benny Gray Rock is far more than just Roger's dad. As his character develops, Benny changes from a stereotype sadistic thug to a gentle giant, the change making clear the actions of Gino and Roger.
"And then there's Sophie whose character is different from that of the others. If one complied the characteristics of Roger, Gino, and Jakob into a single character, Sophie would represent the exact opposite. Our image of her changes and enriches at a constant rate, not in plateaus the way the others develop, but from beginning to end her character gains complexity, while remaining steadfast in her convictions. Sophie is the star of the novel, seen only in a supporting role, but that's how it was with strong women in the thirties. And Sophie captures that theme."