Marcus Connelly is riding the rails west during the Great Depression of the 1920s. Unlike most of the sorry folks he finds in the tent towns that have sprung up along train route, he is not seeking work or a better life. His goal is revenge against a scarred, mysterious man who spoiled Connelly’s idyllic life. Connelly finds others with the same mission, but as the hunt continues, it’s obvious that Mr. Shivers knows who seeks him and employs unexpected resources to dissuade his adversaries.
Bennett knows how to build suspense and keep the reader in an uncomfortable place. His descriptions of hobo and migrant life are almost more frightening that the scenes he creates involving the pursuit of Mr. Shivers through Hoovervilles, small towns, and in other unlikely places. People they meet illustrate the variety of personalities displaced by the Oklahoma Dust Bowl and victims of the Great Depression—friendly unfortunates and frightening opportunists. All have camp-fire stories about or tales to tell of actual encounters with Mr. Shivers, and everyone agrees, seeking Mr. Shivers is a foolish and deadly endeavor.
While the novel starts off like a straightforward, Depression-era horror novel set along the Okies’ migrant trail, it takes a turn and becomes more philosophical and supernatural as the miserable band of vengeance-seekers face the reality of what they chase. With enough violence and suspense to scare, this novel should please readers seeking insight into one of the evils that lurks in the world as well as the difficulties of those displaced during the Great Depression.