The title got me, then the cover, and the plot. Never those three were more perfect when put all together.
On The Devil’s Side of Heaven by Roger Peppercorn released in January in the Thriller / Crime genre.
With the drop of a judge’s gavel, Walt Walker has finally lost everything. The badge and gun he used to carry and the moral certainty of right and wrong, good and evil that used to keep him grounded. Now Walt, sans gun, gets his badges from an Army Navy store. He spends his days in South Florida, working for a boutique insurance firm as their investigator. He spends his nights in dive bars, trying to forget the mess he has made of his life.
Ronald Jacobs always preferred the title Human Resource Manger to Hitman. But now that he’s retired, he can concentrate on living in the shadows as a respectable gentlemen farmer. Far from the reach and pull of his past life.
Their transgressions are behind them but a chance encounter and a failed assassination attempt sets the two of them on a collision course of violence and retribution. Hunted by contract killers, the law, and corporate bag men, they are pursued across the unforgiving adobes and the sweeping vistas of the Mesa Valley in Western Colorado.
Survival means putting their past in front of them and their differences aside, because in this world the only thing that matters is to cast not others on the devil’s side of heaven, lest you be cast in with them.
After Ronald had emptied his last clip he waited to see if the threat would advance into the house or if they had decided enough was enough. A long five minutes of silence dragged into fifteen minutes and then into thirty. After that, he decided to move Jessica and himself deeper into the house, to a better defensive position. Jessica was sobbing and beating his chest.
“Why are they doing this?” she cried.
He had no answer. Instead, he held her close, smoothing her hair and patting her gently on her back. “I don’t know,” was all he could muster.
The adrenaline coursing through him was unbearable. He wanted to fight back; to hunt the man who had invaded their home and then make him regret that decision in a very painful and deadly way. Inside, Ronald was working to force down the impulse to leave her here and seek out those who would do him harm. It took a long time for those feelings to subside and in its place, a burning anger began to take over.
“Jess, I promise you the men who did this will pay,” he said.
Jess reacted like she had been slapped. “No you won’t. You’re going to let the police do their jobs and YOU’RE not going to do anything! Do you hear me, Ronald?”
He didn’t answer right away, the thoughts of vengeance and retribution taking front and center in all of his thoughts.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. They are going to ask questions I can’t answer,” he said.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Roger Peppercorn has suffered for the better part of his life from wanderlust and this need to see the other side of the horizon has taken him to all parts of the world. The people and backdrop of his travels have served as the inspiration behind his characters and storytelling.
As a child, his mother taught him to read and write. His father’s collection of Louis Lamour novels provoked the fantastical images in his mind and the romance of the written word. In the seventh grade, his history teacher brought the characters of a bygone era alive. From that point on, Roger began to hone his skills in storytelling. After high school, Roger took a course in creative writing that was taught by a long haired hippy in a Hawaiian shirt.
Roger’s grandmother used to tell hypothetical tales of traveling across the plains in a covered wagon, the woes of having a son sent off to war, and the larger-than-life man she met at Pea Green Hall who later became her husband.
His first two novels “On The Devils Side of Heaven” and “The Sometimes Long Road Home” take place on the western slopes of Colorado, in the sleepy town of Fruita, where he grew up. They center on the strained relationships and sorted histories of three characters – Walt, Ronald and Jessica, and violence that erupts around them.
Roger is married and is a father of four beautiful children. He currently calls South Dakota his home.
There are two heroes in this story, can he tell us more about them, about who they are? And, The word “finally” caught my attention in the synopsis. Tell us more?
Well to say there are two heroes in this story wouldn’t really be accurate.
I used to be a good cop in Texas and then I used to be a good cop in Florida. I used to be a good husband and a good father. Hell, I used to be a lot of good things, but now I’m just an Ex. Ex-father, ex-husband and an ex-cop. In fact, the sad running joke I tell people is if X marks the spot then you’ve found me.
In his previous life, Ronald Jacobs had carved out a life as a hired gun that specialized in government-sanctioned wet work. When that particular well had begun to run dry he allowed his talents to be utilized by organizations that paid a lot better, but he also had jobs that ran a bit murkier when it came to who the bad guy was.
Walt had allowed Ronald to kill Chaney Shannon, right in front of him from that moment on that would serve as his low point as a cop. After that Walt had moved into the private sector for an insurance company and Ronald had silently agreed to put his homicide tools away. The bond that welded them together, from that day forward, dictated that both Walt and Ronald would change the professions that had granted them the identities that defined them. Both had done so without complaint.
As to the word “Finally” in the synopsis I wish could take credit for that, but my publisher is responsible for that dust cover phrasing. And I don’t know that relived is how Walt would look at it. Like I had said just a moment earlier. You have this incident where Ronald kills a really bad guy and Walt stood idlely by and let it happen. Ronald walked away Walt lost his badge, marriage and kids. They have gone their separate paths, but now years later someone is looking for revenge.
Without giving away any spoilers there is a culmination scene where both of these characters who have staked out opposite ends of the moral spectrum find themselves at the crossroads at the same time. It is their collective decision to work together to find their own brand of justice.
Thanks for the great question.
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