“Watch your neighbor. If he is not doing everything in his power to help the nation in this crisis, see that he is reported to the authorities.” --Tulsa Daily World.
Donis Casey’s All Men Fear Me made me think of what is happening today.
Alafair Tucker’s story is set during World War I. President Wilson tells the American people to fear Germans in America. Some people in Boynton, Oklahoma, apply Wilson’s advice to Boynton citizens of German descent.
After being cool toward the war, many Oklahomans are stirred up. The Germans have invited the Mexicans to invade us. The nation has broken into those who support the war and those who don’t (with some in between).
Americans have formed patriotic fronts and started to try to sort out unpatriotic people. Prime suspects for treason include people like Alafair Tucker’s visiting brother who works as an organizer for a draft-avoiding labor union.
Alafair’s son-in-law is of German descent. Even though he furnishes hogs for the army, he finds one of his gilts pinned to his front door with his slaughtering knife. A blood-penned note on the door tells him to leave town and go back to Germany.
On the other side, someone sabotages the local brick plant which supplies bricks for army installations.
A strange man in a bowler hat roams the community. Some think he is the devil.
Many are practicing voluntary rationing, even farmers who raise their own food and have an excess. The government has set out a schedule for meatless and wheatless meals and days.
A small group of Oklahoma radical union draft resisters foments what they hope will be a national revolt. And in amongst all this, someone kills two members of the local patriotic front (the Knights of Liberty).
Alafair Tucker’s whole family becomes involved. Alafair ends up trying to defend one of her sons in a murderous situation.
As with all the Alafair Tucker books, this one is strongly grounded in Oklahoma history. Casey tells the history in detail as the book works up to its unexpected conclusion.
The Alafair Trucker books are among my favorites. All Men Fear Me is an excellent addition to the series.