Thomas Powhattan Varnell lived in north central Texas in the late 1800's. It was little more than a decade after the Civil War when there was the law of the city and the law of the land. A man had to keep his wits about him or he could easily wind up dead, as Tom P's father had found out when he was ambushed and murdered on his way home one day. Tom P, as Varnell was widely known, was a bit wild, but his mother always believed he would grow out of it. Then one fateful night, Tom P and his friend George were attending a small party when Tom P's penchant for bedding any willing female finally caught up with him. The father of the young vixen caught them en flagrante and took an axe handle to Tom P and started to beat him with it. George came to his rescue by tossing him a .45, which Tom P. used to put a halt to things and killed his attacker. The prison term he got was rather lenient, considering everyone thought Tom P had raped the girl before murdering her naturally outraged father. But the reputation for wildness stayed with Tom P. the rest of his life.
This biography of an amazing character is a true story with lively embellishments by author Sherri Knight. It shows us the realities of life on the prairie at the dawn of the twentieth century through the story of this complex young man who made wonderful music on his fiddle, but could be totally ruthless when he felt wronged or threatened.
Rainbo Electronic Reviews published this review in our March, 2008 issue.
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