Softball Players or Train Robbers? Just good ol’ country boys out to have a good time. The Merchants is a team of slow-pitch softball players, eleven friends and neighbors in the mountains of North Carolina. Someone tied up the college kids who staged fake train robberies on Watauga County’s major tourist attraction, the Tootsie Railway and then robbed the train for real, taking money and jewelry from unsuspecting tourists, one of whom is not the kind of man to be robbed. Thanks to an anonymous tip from a jealous rival, he boys quickly become suspects. An over-exuberant sheriff is out to prove our guys guilty, but there are two problems: no evidence and it could have been a crew of electrical line workers. But that doesn’t faze our publicity-hungry lawman. Add in irritated wives, jealous girlfriends, feudal relatives, the F.B.I., the S.B.I., local cops, state troopers, innocent bystanders and unwelcome outsiders with automatic weapons and malice in their hearts and you have the makings of a first-class novel, with more surprising twists and unexpected turns than a winding mountain road.
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