By Sherri Knight. Softcover (2008), 266 pp.
In the rough and dusty pages of Tom P’s Fiddle,you’ll find murder, betrayal, revenge, and love, proving that the best tales are the true ones . . .Unearthed from museum archives, prison records, newspapers, state archives, and university collections throughout the Southwest comes this true, frontier tale of a man from Hill County, Texas.Strong-willed, handsome, and an accomplished musician, Tom P Varnell is the son of Francis La Docia and Isaac Varnell, a determined, hardworking ranch family. Isaac’s murder in 1876 leaves Docia, Tom, and his sisters to make their own way, and young Tom P to forge his own code of honor. One evening in 1883, Tom and a friend attend a party hosted by the daughters of Jonah Land. Tom’s wiles woo Ella away from the party, and he soon finds himself with a gun in his hand and Mr. Land dying at his feet. Charged with rape and murder, Tom, labeled a notorious desperado, flees as a wanted man.The ensuing events take Tom across Texas to the New Mexico Territory and back. Love, betrayal, revenge, trials, escapes, and family loyalties fill the pages and reads like an old time, Wild West tale. Tom P’s Fiddle is an entertaining blend of historical authenticity and Sherri Knight’s descriptive narrative. Through the context of real events occurring over a century ago, she sheds light on a media-influenced story bent on imposing moral standards and the impact that can have on a jury verdict and the ultimate outcome of a man’s life. The surprising finale caps the convergence of factors that illustrates life’s unexpected twists and turns.”Late 19th century ‘Texas justice’ inside the courtroom appeared inTom P’s Fiddle. Telling a true story with the use of added narrative…a very effective tool to grab and retain the interest and attention of the reader!” —Judge Don Jones, 266th Judicial District, Texas“Knight’s writing style is punchy and well-paced from the first sentence all the way to the work’s haunting final page…readers and researchers alike will appreciate this book.” —S. J. Cannady, The Literary Lion