The Reprieve by Phil Emmert is a straightforward story told in five chapters of one man’s life experience from child to mature adult at the point where he married and the couple had their first child. Chapter One covered Tommy Neal’s young life on a farm in Indiana. The oldest son in a family of eight, his Christian faith was a large part of his life. Chapter One ends as Tommy prepared to go on a mission with his unit, the Marine Raiders in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Almost every male member of his high school class had volunteered for military service after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Even the town’s minister had enlisted.
Chapters Two and Three are descriptions of Tommy’s war experiences. As a Marine Raider, his unit was frequently the leaders in an assault. There is a lot of description of weapons and tactics to include hand-to-hand fighting. During this wartime period, Tommy was able to rationalize the killing as a necessary job. Although there is nothing in the author biography detailing his wartime service, it is difficult to believe that the amount of detail in these two chapters did not come from the author’s experience.
Chapter Four is about coming home and the difficulties of adjustment to a non-threatening environment. Tommy never again went hunting with his childhood friends. He did not like going to church due to crowds, not a lapse of faith. Eventually, he would return to regular church attendance as he dealt with nightmares and what is today called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Chapter Five is about redemption and there is a twist that many readers will not expect. I won’t reveal it here; that would be a spoiler. For the most part, this novel is straightforward storytelling. As a retired Army officer, novels about military operations are of interest to me even though WW II was two wars before my experience. This should be of interest to anyone with military experience. These days that includes Defense Contractors.
Another strong theme in this novel is faith in a higher power. In this novel it is Christian, but I like to generalize it as something more than specific doctrine. I find this novel inspirational in its exposition of the powers of faith, redemption, and forgiveness. I rated this as a four Amazon star novel.
And I can’t leave out a note of congratulations to an author that published his first novel at age seventy-seven.