Frank G(ill) Slaughter Charles Lee - Essay

Charles Lee

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["The Scarlet Cord"] is the best biblical novel that Frank G. Slaughter has written to date. Based on the Book of Joshua, it abounds in action, adventure, romance and intrigue. As Dr. Slaughter's wide public knows, his story-telling strength lies more in movement than in depth. But he is agile in invention; given a climax, he can devise all manner of leaps and twists to produce it. The scarlet cord in the harlot's window and the flattened walls of Jericho provide happy spurs to his imagination. The sun stands still in accordance with Joshua's command, but all else is in motion—migratory, ceremonial, military, conspiratorial and amorous.

Dr. Slaughter might have called his romance the Book of Rahab, for it is the mysterious woman of Jericho who dominates the action. If ever you wondered about her origins, her motives for helping the Israelite spies, and her later relationships with the conquerors of Jericho, the author has agreeable surprises in store….

How it all works out—with ambushes, assassinations, battles, hand-to-hand combats, ordeals by fire—is, of course, Dr. Slaughter's story.

It is only proper to report that amid the violences he somehow manages to interpolate a great deal of interesting information about life in the twelfth century B.C.—the arts of medicine and war especially, but also data on crafts, cosmetics, music, furniture, cooking, housing and government.

Charles Lee, "Only the Sun Stood Still," in The New York Times Book Review (copyright © 1956 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), February 5, 1956, p. 4.