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  • 3 person found this review helpful

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    Even better the second time around.

    I enjoyed the book so much, I read it a second time. I've decided to up my rating to a 5 star instead of a 4. Here is my original review: Iniquities of Gulch Fork isn't the type of book I would normally read, but I'm glad I did. The characters have a very down to earth feel, and their conversations remind me of my family. There are a couple places in the story that I caught myself holding my breath, waiting to see would happen next. Take the time to read this story, you'll be glad you did.

  • 2 person found this review helpful

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    Fantastic experience

    Extremely well written, dialogue marvelous, sarcasm terrific, characters realistic---one of the best reads in a long time. I'm recommending it to everybody I know.

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    Without Reading This I Might Not Still Be Here

    I'm an Iraq war veteran with severe PTSD. I finished reading “Iniquities of Gulch Fork" for the first time in late June, 2016, right after its publication. Easy to read, extremely well written, it went unusually fast for me, a slow reader. I had difficulty putting the book down, kept wanting to pick it back up until I reached the end. I read it again because it hit home with a giant bang! Why? I learned more about PTSD from this book than I ever did from many different shrinks up at the VA hospital in Little Rock, who overloaded me with cocktails of mind-altering drugs. I felt the shrinks were more interested in pleasing the giant drug companies with keeping high volumes of drug sales to the VA rather than spending more time talking things through, helping me understand PTSD and how to cope. I'm from a huge family in southern Arkansas (many of them illiterate), with relatives who tell me, over and over, there's nothing wrong with me but booze---a “booze hound,” they’ve nicknamed me. They make fun of me, claim I'm just lazy and faking it. But I can't fake being nervous and jumpy all the time, can't fake constant unexplained mood changes, can’t fake screaming nightmares, can’t fake flashbacks to Iraq (my very best pal in the army was killed right next to me), can’t fake not having one single friend today, and can’t fake losing one job after another because of my temper---going into a rage over almost nothing, like Samantha's father in the story. I drank wine to get to sleep (like Rob Dean in the book did at first). I got several copies; urged my brothers, sisters, three uncles, two aunts and many cousins to promise me they'd read it. They did. Then I received sincere apologies from those who could read. Without this book, I would not be on the pathway to understanding PTSD, as Rob in the story has come to understand it. By trying to avoid situations that always provoke me, I’ve made progress in finding a job where I can work mostly alone; and I’m hoping soon to resume study for my degree in education. Perhaps one day I can teach English in school, maybe fulfill my boyhood dream of becoming a writer—yet several times I’ve been extremely close to calling it all quits. As a veteran who no doubt drinks too much, I can honestly say this remarkable book and its realistic characters have given me hope, inspiration, and a desire to keep on living. It convinced me that 9/11 was an inside job—that people in our own government are promoting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan just as president L B Johnson raised a false flag to expand markedly the Vietnam War (by lying on national television, now a proven fact). War is caused by extraordinary human greed for money in those at high levels of our government, just as the extreme greed in redneck Smokey in the story causes him to swindle Rob in the cow business, especially after Rob kindly helped him over a financial rough spot. I am indeed grateful to the writers for sharing their lives in this treasure of true experiences. I've even started going back to Alcoholics Anonymous---fully determined to make it work for me this time. Recently, on a weird urge that seemed to come out of white fluffy clouds overhead, I picked the book up again, slowly read it for the third time. After finishing and putting it back on the bookshelf---it took me a long time before I could stop crying. God bless and thank you both, Rob Dean and Samantha Caminos (Bob Smith and Sara Rhodes) Sincerely, a very grateful reader

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    A most enjoyable read

    "Iniquities of Gulch Fork" is without doubt the most enjoyable read of my life. It made me laugh, it brought tears. I loved the subject matter, especially where it refreshed old memories from when I was a child (my dad was killed in Vietnam), the humor smart and sarcastic, the dialog fantastic. I cried (when Samantha's dog was killed in front of her home) and when Rob's only friend in his life, Zack, a West Point graduate, was killed in front of his eyes in a helicopter crash---that's how my dad died. I have no doubts whatsoever that this book will be made into a play on Broadway, mainly because of the dialog---and finally into a movie. Samantha's handling of the phone call from mysterious Bobby Winchester, an obscene caller, most likely the villain Smokey Jones, was so hysterical that I've read it a dozen times. Here's an example of some of the other dialog that makes me proclaim this book is so fresh and original: "You know everybody and his dog have cell phones today---they'll video a piss ant eating a bale of hay if they get the chance." I've already recommended it to 7 of my best friends. I'm going to keep this book as though it were a precious treasure in the top drawer of my bedside table---and read it again, over and over, whenever I become blue and sad. Earnestine Gibbons

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    Small towns sometimes have large problems

    Pacific Book Review by Joe Kilgore Small towns sometimes have large problems; that’s certainly the case in Iniquities of Gulch Fork, by authors Bob Smith and Sara Rhodes. This is a tale of shady deals and shared dependencies threatening to make things even more burdensome than they already are for the hard working people of Gulch Fork, Arkansas. One affliction or another besets virtually every principal player in this country melodrama. Post traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, meth addiction and more, seep into family after family. The setting may be bucolic, but the situations the characters find themselves in are definitely less than languid. Samantha is a certified nursing assistant. On top of keeping her own household together, she visits patients in their homes and helps them with their physical, mental, and emotional burdens. Her patient, Rob, is an aging Vietnam War veteran now confined to a walker and an ever-present Foley catheter. He suffers from severe neuropathy, PTSD, and also happens to be a recovering alcoholic. As it turns out, Samantha’s father is a veteran as well, and a practicing alcoholic. So she’s well prepared to recognize and handle similar behavior patterns both older men share. What she’s not prepared for is events that begin to tumble one upon another which not only test her resolve, but also threatens her life. It soon becomes apparent that Rob has been swindled by an unscrupulous individual as well as his wife. Not only have the two charlatans hoodwinked Rob into a bogus cattle deal, they also have wormed their way into the good graces of other seniors with more savings than savvy. Preying on these good peoples’ naivety and their physical vulnerabilities, the pair are slowly draining the elderly of their accumulated funds while the rest of the dastardly duo’s brood are actively engaged in dealing methamphetamines throughout Gulch Fork and surrounding rural communities. Before the novel’s end, Samantha and her family have been sucked into this undertow of evil and have to rely on themselves, the law, and God’s help to extricate themselves and see justice served. Smith and Rhodes combine storytelling with modern maladies that affect all too many susceptible individuals today. Their novel comes across as a sincere effort to dramatize real problems facing some of the most defenseless among us. While occasionally a bit repetitious and sometimes straying into tributaries only marginally relevant to the flow of the plot, there is no denying they have you pulling for those who’ve been wronged and praying for the evil doers to be punished. An emphasis on collaborative help and religion is sprinkled liberally throughout the narrative as effective ways of dealing with the curveballs life frequently throws. One of those prescriptions even makes its way into the climax, where you just may find yourself reminded of the scripture, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

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