“Soul Catcher” – a book club selection for me – tells the story of Augustus Cain as he seeks to track down two runaway slaves in accordance with the Fugitive Slave Act just prior to the Civil War. Cain is a man haunted by his past – marked by his determination to not be part of his family’s Southern plantation legacy and bearing the scars from his time spent in the Mexican-American War. He views his “profession” as honorable since he works within the law, though this foray to Boston to find the two runaways is due to his need to expunge a debt.
Cain travels with a motley crew - the vile and loathsome Preacher and the two Strofe brothers: Strofe and Little Strofe. They meet a cast of assorted characters along their journey. However, the book is really about Cain’s relationship with the runaway slave woman, Rosetta. Rosetta changes Cain – he goes from considering himself as honorable to rethinking all the ways he has been taught and indoctrinated since childhood. Somewhat predictably, their feelings for each other grow, until the final dramatic conclusion.
While I enjoyed this book, I did find it a little long. Cain’s journey to Boston was fairly quick, but he had countless adventures and trials to endure on the return trip. While I found that White did a good job portraying this time period, at times the character of Rosetta irritated me as she was almost unbelievably articulate in analyzing Cain’s inner feelings and motivations. In another time and place, she would have been an excellent analyst! I did like the character of Cain, however, and felt he was believable. I enjoyed the ending, which was not sappy or predictable.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading novels of this time period. I give it 3 1/2 stars! I got mine from the library, but then won one from my bookclub giveaway!