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The Friends Of Billy Hudnut is Thomas Swan's fourth novel, a departure from his popular art crime series featuring Scotland Yard's Jack Oxby. Billy is set in September, 1936, a peaceful period when many Americans struggled to escape the hardships of the great depression, and worried over the news that Hitler had reoccupied the Rhineland. Eerily, whispers of war began growing louder. Several stories criss cross; all about friends of Billy's mother and dad, each one facing a major crisis ranging from alcoholism to suicide to embezzlement. Good friends who become more deeply entwined in each other's lives, and each family coping with the economic uncertainties of the times problems shared unequally among them. You'll meet Zebedee Mapeson, a black minister striving to protect his flock against the bigoted Reverend Paul Gates who threatens to close Zebedee's Zion Baptist church. Wishing to start his own radio ministry, Gates seeks advice from the infamous Father Charles Coughlin who makes a surprising cameo appearance. It is a vividly sorrowful tale that mixes hope with humor. And it is about the strength and power of families helping each other in time of crisis and need. Much of the story is seen through the eyes of Billy Hudnut, a quickly maturing 15 year old charmer who personifies the innocence of the times.
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