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Book Public: 'The Madstone' by Elizabeth Crook

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Elizabeth Crook
Charla Wood
Elizabeth Crook

Elizabeth Crook’s latest novel is set in and around the Texas HIll Country in 1868. Benjamin Shreve is in his workshop when he witnesses a stagecoach leave a passenger behind.

The man is a treasure hunter who persuades Benjamin to help him get to the coach. There is a treasure that he says belongs to him aboard that buggy.

Benjamin is drawn into a drama whose scope he could never have imagined, for they discover on reaching the coach that its passengers include Nell, a pregnant young woman, and her four-year-old son, Tot, who are fleeing Nell’s brutal husband and his murderous brothers.

Nell is, in fact, evading a sadistic group wanted for acts of violence and harassment against Black citizens.

Nell herself is in terrible danger. She is a witness to (and a victim of) her husband’s violence and the evil committed by the gang. If they catch her, they will take her son, Tot.

Benjamin offers to accompany Nell and Tot to a distant port on the Gulf of Mexico, where they can board a ship to safety.

The treasure hunter helps as does a Black Seminole man who once worked for the Mexican army.

The Madstone by Elizabeth Crook
The Madstone by Elizabeth Crook

This is a story about a journey–many journeys. Each is fraught with uncertainty and danger at every turn. This is also a story about secrets, cursed treasure, and a desperate belief in the eponymous madstone.

This is also a love story–and a story about forgiveness.

Yvette Benavides can be reached at bookpublic@tpr.org.