Call Down the Thunder by Dietrich Kalteis, ECW Press

Call Down the Thunder: A Crime Novel

Kalteis, Dietrich

  • “A sharp-witted, affecting noir.” — Kirkus Reviews

    “Fans of historical crime fiction won’t want to miss this one.” — Publishers Weekly

    Desperate times call for desperate measures in Kalteis’s lightning fast crime caper story

    Sonny and Clara Myers struggle on their Kansas farm in the late 1930s, a time the Lord gave up on: their land’s gone dry, barren, and worthless; the bankers are greedy and hungry, trying to squeeze them and other farmers out of their homes; and, on top of that, their marriage is in trouble. The couple can struggle and wither along with the land or surrender to the bankers and hightail it to California like most of the others. Clara is all for leaving, but Sonny refuses to abandon the family farm. 

    In a fit of temper, she takes off westward in their old battered truck. Alone on the farm and determined to get back Clara and the good old days, Sonny comes up with an idea, a way to keep his land and even prosper while giving the banks a taste of their own misery. He sets the scheme in motion under the cover of the commotion being caused by a rainmaker hired by the mayor to call down the thunder and wash away everyone’s troubles.


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  • Dietrich Kalteis is the award-winning author of Ride the Lightning (bronze medal, 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards, for best regional fiction), The Deadbeat Club, Triggerfish, House of Blazes (silver medal, 2017 IPPY, for best historical fiction), Zero Avenue, and Poughkeepsie Shuffle. He lives with his family in Vancouver, B.C.

  • Published: October 2019

    ISBN: 9781770414792

    Dimensions: 5 x 7.75 in.

    Pages: 328

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“Kalteis does a brilliant job of planting us in this particular time and place . . . Even at its darkest, the story is lifted by a light, engaging touch. A sharp-witted, affecting noir, Dust Bowl-style.” — Kirkus Reviews

Call Down the Thunder is profound and affecting, with just the right amount of comic leavening. As always, Kalteis shows himself to be a smart, skilled, entertaining, and — this is important — full-hearted writer.” — London Free Press

“Immensely readable, tough but beguiling, Call Down the Thunder is a highly original novel: a pacy caper set in ugly times as the dust bowl, the depression, and the Klan gang up on a ragbag of dirt farmers, circus folk, and one indomitable woman, all hoping to scrape by till the rains come. Laugh-out-loud funny, lump-in-the-throat moving, and packed with surprises. I loved it.” — Catriona McPherson, multi-award-winning and national best-selling author of Strangers at the Gate

“‘Depression, drought, dusters, and debt been like the farming man’s four horsemen.’ And the reader feels every one of those four horsemen bearing down. Call Down the Thunder has charlatans, loan sharks, soulless bankers, and haters in white bedsheets burning crosses. And you just know they are all going to converge in disaster for the novel’s protagonists. Kalteis is such a skillful writer that you feel you’re in dustbowl Kansas right from page one; you catch yourself talking in the local dialect and thinking twice about parting with a nickel in case one never rolls your way again. The voice, the characters, and the setting are brilliantly realized!” — Anne Emery, award-winning author of Though the Heavens Fall

“Populated with dirt-poor Kansans, crooked lawmen, circus freaks, brothel dwellers, klansmen and bank robbers, Call Down the Thunder is a proud representative of the Southern Gothic tradition. If Faulkner and Fellini had got together and written a crime novel, this would've been it. Hugely recommended.” — Robert Hough, author of The Final Confession of Mabel Stark and The Man Who Saved Henry Morgan

“Kalteis does a fine job of scene setting; the reader can practically smell the horehound candy at the general store and feel the grit in the air at Sonny's farm. Fans of historical crime fiction won't want to miss this one.” — Publishers Weekly

“As a historical novel, it’s a beauty . . . an excellent story that has lots of old fashioned gumption.” — Globe and Mail

Call Down the Thunder brilliantly weaves history and fiction to give us a gritty, raw-boned tale of survival and retribution in the ‘Dirty Thirties’ of depression-era Kansas.” — Mark Coggins, award-winning author of The Dead Beat Scroll

“In Call Down the Thunder Dietrich Kalteis has done something remarkable: he’s rendered the Kansas of the dust bowl 1930s so completely that I felt myself disappearing into this surreal and tragic world. The people, the language, and the place itself are fully imagined and alive. Bravo!” — S.J. Rozan, best-selling author of Paper Son

“Rarely have I read such descriptions of the land, the wind, the time when sand infiltrated every window and under the door . . . And all this by a Canadian author better known for his thrillers.” — Owen Sound Sun Times