The Right Kind of Fool

Written by Sarah Loudin Thomas
Review by Brodie Curtis

Rural, mountainous West Virginia in the 1930s is the setting for this historical mystery centered around thirteen-year-old Loyal, who became deaf following a childhood illness, and is the key to solving a murder of a somewhat shady, out-of-town land developer.

Loyal has lived with constant tension, between his desire to assimilate with the “talking people” and his mother Delphy’s efforts to protect him from dangers he can’t hear and from social harassment. Loyal’s father, Creed, is a former lawman, and his skills come in handy as he is called on to assist with the small-town murder investigation. As the case unfolds, Loyal’s many previously unrecognized, admirable qualities come to the surface, along with his desires for more social freedoms and friendships.

Loyal senses the need to assist his parents’ slow progress towards reconciliation, after years of distance between them that started after Loyal became deaf, when Creed began to spend time away from the family at his remote mountain cabin. Delphy struggles with Creed’s role in the illness that brought on Loyal’s deafness. Creed must forge a relationship with his son and his new way of communicating to have any chance of convincing Delphy to allow him to reenter the family unit. Characters are drawn with an authenticity that seems well-suited to the Mountain State during the Depression era, without excessive colloquialism. An easy camaraderie develops between Creed and his friend, the local sheriff, and there is much to admire in their approach to pursue justice, which is not always by the book.

Author Sarah Loudin Thomas has written a number of books that are set in Appalachia and in particular in her home state of West Virginia.