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Welcome to the Fallen Paradise Paperback – October 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sherman's promising debut chronicles a young man's thorny return to his Louisiana hometown. Baxter Parish is a "dead-end place, a place filled with death and violence, a territory sunk in the mire of unemployment and poverty." After serving 12 years in the army, 30-year-old Jesse Taddock returns to Baxter Parish to bid his dying mother farewell, and then decides to stay. He secures a job as deputy sheriff, reunites with an old high school flame and buys a house with his $30,000 inheritance. Life looks to be just fine until the giant Balem "Cotton" Moxley shows up at Jesse's doorstep with a shotgun, vowing to reclaim the land he insists rightfully belongs to him. Jesse, forced to choose between capitulation (the sheriff's strong advice) and a good hard fight, opts for the latter. With the assistance of his uncle Red, Jesse prepares to go head to head with Moxley, erecting blockades and fashioning an arsenal of bullets, bombs and blades. Sherman brilliantly reunites a land with its own set of vicious rules with a native of that land who, as a changed man, simply wants peace. Weaving his way through a series of complex characters and a terrain fertilized with a proud but bloody history, Sherman tells a spirited and engaging tale.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Tadlocks ain't known to run from a fight in Louisiana's Baxter Parish. So it strains familial relations some when young Jesse Tadlock avoids a legal scrape by enlisting in the army and then stays overseas for a dozen years. Meanwhile, his mom has been dying of cancer, and Uncle Red has been grumbling about Jesse's failure to return home in a timely fashion. When Jesse finally does show up, he feels the good life in his grasp--what with a job offer from the sheriff, his old gal still pining away, and enough inheritance to buy a decent spread in the parish hill country. But then a hellish man under the law's shady protection arrives to claim the repossessed property as family land. Plumb out of his depth, Jesse soon looks to stubborn Uncle Red for help hanging onto both his property and life. This pitch-perfect debut novel, about a hard-luck place where blood feuds spring up natural as pit bulls after raw meat, will go down easier with fans of rural crime stories than a juicy pork steak steeped in red-eye gravy. Frank Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage Publishing (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596921528
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596921528
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,509,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dayne Sherman is a high school dropout. He has worked a variety of jobs as a grocery store clerk, carpenter's helper, door-to-door rat poison distributor, watermelon salesman, itinerant Baptist preacher, English as a second language teacher in Russia, fitness instructor, and most recently as a reference librarian (full professor of library science). At 18 years old, he took the GED and went to the university in his hometown. A member of Phi Kappa Phi, Sherman earned master's degrees from LSU and Southeastern Louisiana University.

Zion is Sherman's latest novel, a Southern mystery. His first novel, Welcome to the Fallen Paradise, was published released in 2004. It was named a Best Debut of the Year by The Times-Picayune and a Notable Book by Book Sense. Recently, Welcome to the Fallen Paradise was the sole "Louisiana" pick for Booklist's "Hard-Boiled Gazetteer to Country Noir."

His writing has appeared in many literary magazines, and one of his short stories was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Sherman lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his wife and son. His website is

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Darrelyn Saloom on October 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I could not stop reading "Welcome to the Fallen Paradise," so I was sent to the couch (the light bothers my husband). At four-thirty this morning I finished the book and was left feeling as though I had fallen into paradise. The paradise of Dayne Sherman's brillant writing. I fell hard, into Louisiana's Baxter Parish; smack in the middle of Jesse Tadlock's terrifying troubles, his till-death-do-us-part family, and his worried but beautiful heart.

All Jesse wants to do is get a job, rekindle his love for his high school sweetheart, and buy some land and a house. But his psychopathic neighbor, Cotton Moxley, only wants Jesse dead. The feud between Moxley and the Tadlock family is rabid, electrifying, and deadly.

I highly recommend buying "Welcome to the Fallen Paradise," and then staying up all night to read it. It is well worth a night on the couch.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Garic K. Barranger on November 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Welcome To The Fallen Paradise by Dayne Sherman is a very good read indeed. It can be experienced on one level simply as a whopping good adventure yarn, and many will see it as little more than that, rather like the James Bond stories of Ian Flemming. Certainly it reads with the same page turning interest and bouncy adventurous charm. It is so well plotted and punctuated with regularly spaced climax that there is much temptation on the part of the casual reader to dig no deeper, and fail to see the book for the rather greater work that it really is. It is that deeper meaning that will be examined in this short note.

Other reviewers have outlined the general story progress and (unwilling to spoil the fun) I will not repeat that line of comment, except to say that the book deals with the return from the army of Jessie Tadlock to his home Parish in Southeastern Louisiana. He seeks to set himself up as a peace-loving householder with a beagle inherited from his late Mom. And almost immediately things go horribly wrong. He is mauled over by any number of persons, institutions and power structures, all of whom seem to be hell bent on keeping his naïve innocence from settling in. The book is a study in an almost baroque conflict between multiple power structures as he tries to pick his way through a picaresque path of multiple perils involving (among others) malign religious institutions, uncertain family loyalties, a dangerous law enforcement regime, and an utterly evil antagonist. This sonuvabitch, an unappetising item named Cotton Moxley, who leads Jessie's opposition is one of the most pernicious villains to creep into anglophone fiction since Richard III or Sauron of Mordor.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Sherman speaks with a distinctive voice in a fiction genre that deals with the dark underbelly of life as it is really lived beneath the veneer of civilization.

Returning home after a 12-year stint in the Army, Jesse Tadlock is looking for a place to settle. His mother recently died, and, although she possessed little in the way of material goods, she did leave her son a $30,000. life insurance policy the government couldn't touch. With a new job waiting in the Sheriff's Department of a nearby parish, Jesse is ready to begin the next phase of his life, purchasing a small parcel of land in Mount Olive. He scrubs the small house on the property, pleasantly anxious to begin his new job the following day. Everything changes in the morning, when Jesse is confronted by the wild-eyed Cotton Moxley, who informs the new owner he has 72 hours to get off the land. This is no idle threat.

Jesse values two things above all: God and family. After a trip to the local church, Jesse retreats to his kin, who have a long history of things done in the name of family, violent and otherwise. Chief among the men is Uncle Red, a surrogate father to Jesse, since his father was killed in Vietnam when the boy was only three-years old. Uncle Red is a seasoned veteran of hardscrabble survival, a source of comfort and direction for Jesse, who is overwhelmed by the implications of what awaits him in the person of Cotton Moxley. Moxley is both feared and hated throughout the state, but also a man with far-reaching influence.

After Jesse loses his promised job with the Sheriff's department, no doubt because of Moxley's connections, continually harassed and threatened by Moxley, he realizes that the law can do nothing to protect his interests.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Richard Wright on February 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sherman writes a good story. I can't explain why it held my interest so well because the plot was anything but complex. If you are a fan of literature about the haunted landscape of the South, you should give it a try.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ingrid Guillaume on June 29, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Baxter Parish, in south Louisiana, is all that is wrong in Louisiana, the true "Fallen Paradise" of this book. Corruption of public officials, kin folk ruled by passions generations older than themselves, the land itself a binding force that won't let go. Dayne Sherman's first novel follows the story of Jesse Tadlock as loss brings him back home to Baxter Parish, only looking for peace and a simple life of land and love. He is quickly drawn into a nightmare spurred by the evil living in one man, an evil that seems at first to be too large to be real. But as the story unwinds, you begin to understand the motivations of the main characters: Jesse and his simple desires versus Cotton Moxley, who believes whatever he does is justified -- as long as HIS life is undisturbed.

As if by preordination, Moxley tears into Jesse's life in a hurricane of hatred, lust and terror. Backed up by family that for generations have "settled" disputes with blood, Jesse has to make basic decisions that he knows will haunt him and yet must be made. You'll get caught up in the characters quickly, coming to love or hate them with a fierceness that will surprise you. Chapters burn past quickly, as you wonder what new dread you'll face as the book moves you along as if on a fast-moving, churning river.

"Welcome to the Fallen Paradise" has characters worthy of any of the great Southern writers, without all the pontification that comes with some of them. The pacing and power are certainly more powerful than Southern heat and humidity, which says a lot. You're in for a special treat with Sherman's novel.
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