The Law of Moses, Sam’s Story, a novel written and copyright by Kwen D. Griffeth.
Plot: Samuel Moses Cardiff joyfully returns from teacher’s college anxious to see his family and especially his father, the local minister and school teacher in Elmira, N. Y. He is met by the family but informed that his beloved dad had passed away. A letter had been sent to him which for some inexplicable reason he never received. He is heartbroken, but with his plans to get a teaching job and marry Patsy, the girl of his dreams, he begins to adjust. Then he receives another blow. His mother asks him to join the forming military regiment that is being raised to fight the Civil War. She explains that his younger brother Luke has enlisted and she believes he cannot survive without Sam’s help. She firmly believes that nothing will happen to him, but does not have the same belief with respect to his younger brother. Under duress, Sam acquiesces but makes plans to marry his beloved Patsy upon his return. The two boys leave and are engaged in sporadic fighting including the vicious battle of Antietam. During a short interim bivouac, Sam receives a letter that Patsy has been killed by a spooked horse and almost directly thereafter Luke is killed in an unexpected attack. Sam attempts to shoot himself but is stopped by his Irish Sargent Major who tells him that it is a sin to commit suicide. At that moment Sam vows never again to allow himself to get close enough to anyone so as again to be so devastated. The tale then begins to unfold as he becomes a sheriff and deadly gunman who repeatedly takes on almost impossible odds praying to be killed so as not to continue the mental anguish that never leaves. As time advances he meets a number of interesting characters, he recalls his father’s almost forgotten admonition “Be the man you were meant to be, not just the man you become”, and a most compelling scenario develops leading to a captivating result.
Discussion: The author has provided a story that, although placed in a western setting, should not be dismissed as simply an offering in the ‘Western’ or ‘historical’ genre per se. The time frame makes a perfect setting for the activity and readers’ of either of these genres will thoroughly enjoy this book because the author is knowledgeable of the Era, the terrain, the battles and with the weaponry employed. The story reaches to far greater depths, however. This is a book that looks at a person with a condition that can evolve in anyone with active combat experience in any war. In WW I it was termed ‘Shell Shock’, Today it is called PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the author has quite admirably set forth a captivatingly written novel depicting such a person and his struggles at recovery.
Conclusion: A well-written novel that may be enjoyed by those few remaining readers who still love ‘westerns’, those who enjoy ‘historicals’ and perhaps even more importantly, it is most pertinent to the tastes of today’s more sophisticated readers is the engrossing description of one person’s activity dealing with a condition quite widely existing today to a greater or lesser extent in many veterans.
5* Fascinating, well-written story enjoyable for lovers of several genres and most pertinent today.