The first half of the book covers young Fanning’s introduction to the struggle by the Loyalists to defeat fellow countrymen intent on breaking all bonds with mother England. Most of the action takes place in North and South Carolina. Later on, as the enthusiastic young man continues to experience the horrors of war, we see a different man emerge—a war-hardened veteran. By the end of the book—once the Loyalist cause seems lost—the protagonist strikes out in ways anything but heroic.
If the reader is expecting a chance to enjoy empathizing with a “good guy” on the losing side of the conflict, Passel of Trouble will not make it easy to do so. Instead, Epley provides a detailed and unflinching look at how war has the devastating power to turn a once-honorable civilian soldier into a revenge-seeking killer.
Thoroughly researched and filled with fascinating historical detail, Epley has given us a solid contribution to our understanding of this period and an interesting look into a part of the American Independence conflict not often explored.
Military Writers Society of America Awards Director and Reviewer
"Inspired by true events, Joe Epley provides a rare first person narrative on how the Revolutionary War with England effected individuals, families, and communities, often turning friends and families into enemies.
Epley’s exhaustive research offers a clear perspective on the second and third order effects of America’s war for independence on the families of the Carolinas and the ensuing partisan warfare which claimed thousands of lives.
Through engaging prose Epley brings alive the Carolina wilderness over 230 years ago allowing an appreciation of the lives of our early pioneers and how they survived not only the elements of nature, but Indians, Loyalists (Tories) and Rebels (Whigs). Additionally, his work clearly adds to the scholarship of our lens into the origins of our own Civil War and a definite addition to the reading list of anyone interested in the many untold stories of the partisan warfare conducted in the shadows of the Revolutionary War."
---Lieutenant General (Retired) Michael S. Tucker,
"David Fanning is one of the most intriguing characters of the American Revolution, and Joe Epley brings him stunningly to life in A Passel of Trouble. In Epley's skillful hands, Fanning's story crackles with excitement -- bold action, narrow escapes -- set against the backdrop of the American struggle for independence. A compelling tale, mighty well told."
-- Robert Inman,
author of Liberty Mountain, The Revolutionary War Drama
"What Lord Dartmouth described in May 1775 as the “general frenzy” in the America colonies is brought vividly to life in Epley’s excellent new novel, Passel of Trouble. The Carolina backcountry is a scene of tumult and betrayal, as neighbor turns on neighbor, and friend on friend. Whig partisans, bandits, marauding Cherokee Indians, and of course the invading British march through this historical tableau. At the center is David Fanning, a young loyalist trying to stay alive and protect his friends, as the “general frenzy” engulfs them all. A rollicking good read, but never at the expense of historical accuracy.”
author of "The First American Declaration of Independence?"
"A PASSEL OF TROUBLE: Saga of the notorious Loyalist Partisan leader David Fanning" is an amazing account of the life of the most capable and effective Loyalist militia commander in the Carolinas. The details in the narrative are fascinating and, love him or hate him, he was an amazing warrior. Epley has described the areas of Fanning's travels and the places he fought and readers who are familiar with the Carolinas will find those most interesting. The end of Fanning's campaign occurred after the British surrender at Yorktown. Like Bloody Bill Cunningham, frustration turned to retribution. In examining Fanning's life from the cruelty and humiliation of his childhood to his rampage after Yorktown is a classic study of how brutality breeds brutality."
--- Christine Swager,
historian and author "Come to the Cowpens."
"Taut. Gritty. Riveting. Compelling. A must read for those seeking well-written fact-based fiction. Those words partially illuminate former Green Beret Joe Epley’s second telling of the story of the brutal Revolutionary War fought in the Carolinas, A Passel of Trouble.
This sequel not only lives up to the author-historian’s impressive debut novel of 2013, 'A Passel of Hate', it adds dimensions and perspectives that reflect diligent research, soul-searching, and attention to craft that enshrine him as one of the most significant chroniclers of Revolutionary War history.
The novel’s hero (or anti-hero, depending on one’s point-of-view), is real-life partisan Loyalist David Fanning, notorious in the annals of this war’s history for cunning, tactical brilliance, and audacious actions. From the moment that that young David Fanning crawled out of the muck that harbored his emaciated, tortured and near-dead body in 1770, through his seven-year evolution into the most feared and accomplished Loyalist leader of the Revolutionary War in the Carolinas, the drama literally leaps from the pages of this 422-page novel.
Epley’s historian voice seamlessly merges the brutality and gore of the war
with his humanitarian voice that pays homage to the sanctity of nature - before it is despoiled by man. Neither aspect dominates the other.
That the war no doubt was waged very closely to the way Epley describes it is to his credit, as both a novelist and historian."
-- Jack J. Prather
author of numerous novels and nonfiction books
The author combines his academic rigor with novelistic strokes, showing how David’s feats on the battlefield became the fodder of legend, even myth... Epley’s protagonist leads a wildly adventurous life that’s often riveting. It’s also exceedingly rare to see a sympathetic treatment of the Loyalist side—fictional or otherwise—which makes this novel an uncommon treat.
"Joe Epley is, in my opinion, the ultimate historian. His writing not only is
historically correct and transposed in the proper geographical location, but it is a studied portrait of everyday life of the person living in that period. From the household habits and daily
activities of individuals and families, to sometimes, their innermost thoughts, and the events that went on to develop their personalities and characters.
It is with this talent that he has put before us the life of one David
Fanning. I am a patriotic soul, and still get a tightness in my throat, when the Flag goes by, or Our National Anthem is sung. But in the story of David Fanning, I could clearly see the picture from
his and his follower's point of view."
author of four novels
"Joe Epley is a terrific writer and he has the uncanny ability to help readers relive the experience of the Revolutionary War as though they were part of it. The descriptions are keen and compelling. One feels that it's a story that is well-researched as one delves into the way the protagonist is explored, the cultural tenets, and the general climate of the war. There is a powerful kind of conflict developed throughout the story and, apart from the pressure and concerns of war, the protagonist has to deal with friends who do not think the way he does. Readers will enjoy the courage and patriotism of Fanning, his unwavering zeal, his intelligence and wit, but above all, they will be seeing the American Revolutionary War from the other side of the fence. A Passel of Trouble: The Saga of Loyalist Partisan David Fanning is a compelling historical read with a lot of entertainment. It's a must-read for fans of the genre. Fanning plays out powerfully for a movie character. A book with a unique perspective."
Reviewed By Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite
"In an excellently written and amazingly researched new work of historical fiction by author Joe Epley, A Passel of Trouble: The Saga of Loyalist Partisan David Fanning, readers will find a wonderful novel full of adventure, intrigue and historical details about a person they may not have heard of before. His attention to historical detail and his scene-setting abilities are simply second to none. Any reader who enjoys historical fiction, or any reader looking for a great read of fiction in general, should absolutely grab this book.
Reviewed By Tracy A. Fischer for Readers’ Favorite
"The vivid scenes of battle paint a true picture of what life must have been like at that time. The issue of slavery and David’s ideas have been dealt with realistically. I liked the narrative style that tells the story effortlessly and engagingly while taking the reader through the war itself. I also enjoyed the everyday scenes of family life and simple love that have been portrayed in an authentic manner. Overall, I was impressed with the in-depth research and story-telling in this novel, along with the detailed history of David Fanning himself. Fans of historical fiction will surely enjoy this book!"
Reviewed By Gisela Dixon for Readers’ Favorite