The Teeth of the Souls

Written by Steve Yates
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

After the Civil War, young Leighton Shea Morkan inherits the Morkan Quarry outside of Springfield, Missouri. To make a profit, he hires many free black men to operate the mine, which causes a furor among the town’s white residents. The miners work for a lesser wage than white workers and are paid in script, which entitles them to necessities sold at the company store.

Leighton falls in love with Patricia Weitzer, daughter of a trustee of the National Mineral Bank, to whom he had owed money. This marriage arrangement rids him of the loan and adds land to his own acreage. Unbeknownst to Patricia, Leighton is having an affair with Judith, an older woman and former slave of the Morkans. Leighton and Patricia’s marriage did not sit well with Judith.

This is a sequel to Morkan’s Quarry, which had followed the narrative of Shea Morkan’s father, who had established the stone quarry prior to the Civil War. The racial tension between the blacks and whites in Springfield provides a fascinating glimpse of unrest in post-Civil War America. Vigilantes and the upcoming railroad increase the tension within the Springfield community. The characterizations are complex and realistic for the time period. This is an exceptional read that brings the Reconstruction period to life. Highly recommended.