3 out of 5
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Bigfoot Hunters Never Lie
Author: Kate E Thompson
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Author Links –
In Kate E. Thompson’s debut novel, “Bigfoot Hunters Never Lie,” Pastor Noah Cathcart struggles to find happiness while doing everything he believes God wants him to do. I enjoyed the story, for the most part, but did have a few problems with the style, which I’ll explain later.
“Bigfoot Hunters” is a typical mid-life crisis story, despite it happening at a relatively early age for Noah. He’s thirty-five with a young son and a beautiful, Pastor-perfect wife, and stands to “inherit the kingdom,” so to speak, from his father – the heavy-handed evangelical head of the Rolling River Church. Throughout the novel, author Thompson does a nice job of pulling the reader down into Noah’s conflicted sense of self, trying to do what he believes is right against what his wife and father tell him God is calling him for. Noah’s desire to preach to and help the unfortunate through a message of Christ’s love and compassion for all is at grave odds with his father, who preaches fire-and-brimstone, and his wife, Grace, who has no room in her heart for the dirty, drug-addicted homeless.
Every relationship he has outside of his father’s and wife’s plan for him pits him against the will of the Rolling River congregation. His best friend, Charlee – with whom he developed the Bigfoot Hunters code when they were children, which becomes Noah’s guiding principles toward the end – is either atheist or a non-practicing Christian. His brother Anthony is homosexual and wants Noah to marry him and his partner. The various characters of his street ministry demand his time and attention and end up getting him in trouble with the law on more than one occasion. All of these conflicts continue to eat away at Noah and drive him and his wife apart throughout the story, which ultimately drives the novel to the climax; Noah’s eight-year-old son, Gabe, runs away one stormy morning because mom and dad are always fighting.
Noah’s struggles generally resonate true and are easily applicable to most people’s lives. He is a relatable character. We’ve all had to deal with well-meaning family and friends constantly pulling us in the direction they want regardless of how we want to live our own lives. His seeming complacency – he barely ever puts up a fight – masks a depression that is eating him up. “Bigfoot Hunters” is definitely an engaging story, and Thompson takes us through the whole range of emotions. Happiness when Noah is happy with his street ministry, sad when it all falls apart, frustrated that he can’t catch a break from his own family who claim to be Christians. Noah struggles with his faith far more than you might think a Pastor should, yet he’s the only one in his God-fearing family actually trying to live by the Gospel. All of these themes should resonate with any average person.
I loved the relationship between Charlee and Noah. Thompson seems to really understand how to write two best friends. It’s believable and satisfying. Unfortunately, all of the other characters were a bit thin and predictable, and with them went the plot. To be clear, it was a page turner sometimes and I liked it, but I never had any doubt as to how everything would play out. That comes from the light character development. One line of description of Noah’s and Grace’s marriage and I knew where things were going. For example – technically, this isn’t a spoiler, but you’ll figure it out – Grace is on a committee where she has to have all day meetings and nights and weekends with a wealthy real-estate mogul. This is in chapter two, near the very beginning. Can you guess what happens?
Really, though, the biggest problem I had with this novel was that it was written in first person present. I wish this trend would stop. It can be done, but out of the hands of a literary master it never brings the reader fully into the story. One of the joys of reading is putting yourself in the shoes of the main character, or multiple characters when the point of view changes. With the present tense it is impossible, because while the author says “I am putting the dishes away,” you’re thinking, “No, I am reading a book.” If you told me I put the dishes away yesterday, then I’m a believer. In this case, it sometimes made for choppy dialog, and often read like a draft. The more I thought about it, the more I believed that every part would have been better in the past tense. Better flow, better connection with the character.
Another problem I think this style caused was some time flow problems. Present tense sometimes doesn’t lend an opening for descriptive narrative, and many times I had trouble figuring out when things were happening. Things that I thought were at night were actually in the morning, and scene transitions that should have been the next day were several months later. It was confusing.
“Bigfoot Hunters Never Lie” is a touching story, and I did enjoy it. I think anybody that is torn between what they want and what others want from them will find something here that makes them root for the good guy. While the writing style wasn’t so enjoyable for me, the story itself kept me engaged enough that I can easily say, “I liked it.”