KILLER DILLER reintroduces the main character of Edgerton’s second novel, WALKING ACROSS EGYPT: Wesley Benfield, a young man who has been rescued and “raised right” by eighty-one-year-old Mattie Rigsbee. In this sequel Wesley is doing time for car theft in BOTA House, a halfway facility for small-time offenders run by Baptist Ballard University. Caring less for the souls of their charges than for the dollars that will be generated through good public relations, university administrators Ted and Ned Sears try to take advantage of Wesley and his friends’ musical talents in order to gain more endowment dollars for Ballard U.
But Wesley and the other members of the band, a gospel group called The Nobel Defenders of the Word, dream of playing blues joints rather than Christian nursing homes. In his spare time Wesley writes contemporary biblical blues such as “Jesus Dropped the Charges” and preaches innovative sermons interpreting the gospels as he sees them. The band and the administrators are bound to clash, particularly when Wesley and the others decide to spring Mrs. Rigsbee from a nursing home and take off on the road to Myrtle Beach, North Carolina, renames as a blues band, The Wandering Stars.
Edgerton writes an entertaining novel poking fun at the hypocrisy and greed that drive the Sears brothers in the name of Christian virtue. The true heroes of this story are the “misfits": petty thief Wesley; retarded Vernon Jackson, a musical genius; and Wesley’s obese girlfriend, Phoebe Trent, an inmate of Ballard University’s Christian weight reduction center, Nutrition House.
KILLER DILLER spoofs evangelical colleges, captures many of the nuances of small-town life, and presents likable renegades and despicable villains in everyday attire.