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That Bright Land

That Bright Land

Set in the summer of 1866, a year after the Civil War has ended, That Bright Land is the story of Jacob Ballard, a former Union soldier and spy who's been sent south into the North Carolina mountains to find a serial killer who is carrying out his own private war in an isolated community. His... more

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Overview

Set in the summer of 1866, a year after the Civil War has ended, That Bright Land is the story of Jacob Ballard, a former Union soldier and spy who's been sent south into the North Carolina mountains to find a serial killer who is carrying out his own private war in an isolated community. His journey also takes him home to the mountains where he was born. As he searches for the killer, he meets a war widow who helps him heal his own wounds and make peace with his past. Based on true events, That Bright Land paints a compelling picture of a violent and fragile nation in the wake of the Civil War.

Terry Roberts' direct ancestors have lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina since the time of the Revolutionary War. His family farmed in the Big Pine and Anderson Cove sections of...more

Reviews

"Set in the aftermath of the Civil War, That Bright Land is a thrilling and seamless fusion of fact and imagination, bringing to light a too-long neglected part of American history. This novel further confirms Terry Roberts’ place as one of Appalachia’s most important voices."

Ron Rash, author of the New York Times bestseller, Serena

"That Bright Land is a thriller set in the complex and deadly aftermath of the Civil War in the mountains of Western North Carolina. With authority and authentic and precise detail, Terry Roberts brings to life an obscure corner of our history where brother fought brother and neighbor was divided from neighbor. With humor as well as compelling drama, this mystery story unfolds in conflicts of loyalty, revenge, vivid poetry of place, and the bonds of healing love. No one who reads this novel will ever forget it."

Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek and Chasing the North Star

"Out of the tangled conditions in the Southern mountains just after the Civil War, Terry Roberts has constructed a novel of considerable historic value, containing a charming love story."

Elizabeth Spencer, author of The Light in the Piazza and Starting Over

"Terry Roberts has set his gripping detective story, That Bright Land, in the still bleeding aftermath of the Civil War. The place is backwater Appalachia and the depiction of ways and manners is not only accurate but integral to the force of the story. And what force it has! Reading, I felt at times that I was on a raft down the flooding French Broad river, exhilarated and more than a little scared, but wishing that the ride would continue as long as possible."

Fred Chappell, author of I Am One of You Forever

Early in this gripping whodunit set in the summer of 1866 from Roberts (A Short Time to Stay Here), Zeb Vance, the real-life governor of North Carolina, meets with his Yankee nephew, Jacob Ballard, a former Union soldier and retired detective who now works for the War Department in Washington City. Someone is murdering North Carolinians who fought for the North during the Civil War, and Vance wants Ballard to apprehend the killer. Ballard travels to mountainous western North Carolina, many of whose residents were hostile to the Confederacy. There he presents himself as a government agent checking on the legitimacy of Union army veterans’ disability benefit claims. Ballard finds some correspondence between the list of those seeking the payments and the names of the murder victims—and support for Vance’s notion that the motive for the crimes is connected with an 1863 Confederate massacre of Union sympathizers. This historical approaches the high standard of Owen Parry’s mysteries set during the same period.

Publishers Weekly

Ballard’s struggle for identity parallels that of the remote, mountainous region of North Carolina, which will complicate his future. That Bright Land deserves an A for the sympathetic protagonist, intelligent love story, and well-crafted plot, but Ballard’s discovery of his own roots, after years of homelessness and war, makes it an A+. Highly recommended.

Historical Novel Society

Civil War buffs: You don’t want to miss this one.

Charlotte Observer

In That Bright Land, [Terry Roberts] engagingly combines a serious subject and a jocular survival spirit with a suspense story.

Asheville Citizen-Times