The Ridge: The Whisper of the Leaves

Book Cover


1920s & '30s

Daniel Macon Brawner

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In 1937 Arkansas, 17-year-old Marshall Bentwood longs for the day he can escape the farm he hates. His wish comes true, but at a deadly cost. He brings justice to those responsible for an unspeakable act. All this leads to a stunning conclusion in the snowy woods of The Ridge


Action,Historical Fiction,Suspense/Thriller,Family,Memoir,Crime,Young Adult

Short Summary

"I found out about my father the day we buried my grandmother." So begins the story told to a young man by an old man who knew his father well when both were youths. The tale is told as the pair sit in the cemetery.

Marshall Bentwood has left home to protect his family from retribution. He is drawn back when his sister is kidnapped and threatened. This family feud comes to a bloody conclusion when the families meet on The Ridge.


Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise

Overcoming Monster/Villain,Rebellion Against 'The One',Tragedy

Plot - Other Elements

Coming of Age

Mature Audience Themes

Extreme Violence

Main Character Details

Name: Marshall Bentwood

Age: 17

Gender: Male

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Masculine,Modest,Blunt,Selfless,Strong Moral Code,Unapologetic,Badass,Decisive,Faithful,Heroic,Leader,Underdog,Charming,Aggressive,Heartthrob

Additional Character Details

Name: George Borden

Age: 18

Gender: Male

Role: Sidekick

Key Traits: Narcisstic,Naive,Desperate,Clumsy

Additional Character Details

Name: Cubby Borden

Age: 50s

Gender: Male

Role: antagonist

Key Traits: Badass,Aggressive,Criminal,Unapologetic,Manipulative,Secretive,Outspoken,Blunt,Villainous

Additional Character Details

Name: Carl Bentwood

Age: 50s

Gender: Male

Role: mentor

Key Traits: Unapologetic,Uneducated,Modest,Masculine,Blunt,Selfless,Strong Moral Code

Development Pitch

Marshall Bentwood, is part of a generation journalist Tom Brokaw called "The Greatest Generation". He epitomizes the type of character which was needed for that generation to defeat world evil. Marshall is an heroic character in the vein of other heroes of cinema such as Indiana Jones and Will Kane. Much like Kane, he gets thrown into an untenable confrontation, but does what he thinks is right. Stories like The Ridge are, no doubt, ideal for a movie audience because it brings so many audience endearing qualities to the screen. In a pool hall, Marshall confronts two bootleggers which will likely cause people to verbally cheer. An actual school explosion will illicit audience tears. The exciting climax in the snow of The Ridge, will keep the audience guessing as to who will survive and who will not. Why will audiences want to see The Ridge? For the same reason they flocked to see any action movie, especially those containing a rebel such as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause. Why would people want to see a movie which takes place in 1937 rural Arkansas? Because many people like to be transported to a time and place before cell phones and computers; to a time when things seemed to be simpler, more cut and dried, more black and white. What makes The Ridge the ideal story to be put on screen? Because once audiences leave after watching it they will know that they been on a thrill ride and will tell their family and friends and neighbors that they need to get “on the ride” also

About The Author

I am currently a sports and features writer with the Wynne Progress and East Arkansas News Leader. And even though I’ve written for various newspapers over the years, including articles in the Pulitzer Prize winning Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, this is my first novel. As a newspaper writer, I am always looking for story ideas. Occasionally, I come across an incident while looking in newspaper issues of years past which seems to be custom made for novelization. Two years ago, I found such a story which simply wouldn’t let me go and that story became The Ridge: The Whisper of the Leaves. Besides my writing experience and my experience as an English Lit. teacher, the qualifications I bring to this project include growing up in the countryside outside of Wynne (the town in the story). I have lived less than two miles from Crowley's Ridge or “The Ridge” and have hunted there from childhood to adulthood (a span of 71 years). So, understandably, I have a personal knowledge of the people of the area as well as their language and idiosyncrasies.

Target Audiences

Age: 13-17,18-34,35-54,55+

Target Gender: Universal

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: No

Publisher: Publish America

Year Published: 2006

Hard Copy Available



Information not completed




Marshall was born into farming but dreams of a better life. When he gets entangled with the wrong crowd, they retaliate and kill his look alike brother. Marshall kills the murderer and flees Arkansas. He is caught and returns home when he finds out his little sister has been kidnapped because of his actions.

Overall Rating


Point of View


Narrative Elements

Authors Writing Style: GOOD

Characterization: GOOD

Commerciality: FAIR

Franchise Potential: GOOD

Pace: GOOD

Premise: GOOD

Structure: GOOD

Theme: GOOD

Accuracy of Book Profile

Yes, the book profile accurately reflects the book.

Draw of Story

The story immerses the audience in the world of hard working farmers during the Depression. The dialogue emphasizes the place and time the story is set. They are a simple people who are surviving. The characters are very likeable.

Possible Drawbacks

There are parts of the story that don't add to the plot. Some of the moments with Marshall in town with Gerald or some of his time on the train, chatting with the family. They are nice moments but do not add to the story overall or the resolution to the plot. They could be condensed.

Use of Special Effects


Primary Hook of Story

The hook is that Marshall gets into a fight and his older brother pays the price when he is killed. Marshall gets revenge but now is on the run from the cops once they connect him to the murders. I would watch this movie for the back country setting and period drama.

Fanbase Potential

This would not have a large fanbase. Films set in this time are not gaining mass appeal but are receiving critical acclaim. Stories surrounding the depression and farming have been done before with much success, but their doesn't seem to be a market for them at the moment.

Awards Potential

This could have awards potential if more time was taken for character development. Marshall is an interesting main character but the story doesn't dive into his physique or motives. There is a surface level understanding of his wants and desires but his emotional connection to his disappointments and broken dreams is not explored deeply.

Envisioned Budget


Similar Films/TV Series


What’s New About the Story

The story is original because of the details and events of the crime. Marshall's brother was killed and he gets revenge on the murderer. He flees but is returned to his home town when he finds out his sister has been kidnapped. It is unique enough to entertain an audience without being redundant.

Lead Characters

The lead character stands out because of the juxtaposition of his personality to the crimes he commits. He is presented as a kind, intelligent young man with dreams of being educated and leaving his families farm for another life. His fighting gets him mixed in a bad situation that cost the life of his brother. His actions show a different side of him, another facet of him. Marshall is still a loveable character at the end of the story.

Uniqueness of Story

This is not a rare gem but a solid, period drama and thriller. The events of the story are tied up nicely at the end with a satisfying resolution. The characters have a midwestern charm that adds to tone of the story.

Possible Formats

Film: Indie, Streaming TV Series: Limited Run / Mini-Series

Analyst Recommendation



This is a solid drama with a heart. The characters are likeable and the plot is entertaining. The story is predictable but has enough twists and turns to maintain an audience's attention. It would benefit from more character development. Marshall's actions throughout the story are dire and the loss of his elder brother would take a mental toll on him. That is not explored and would give the story more gravitas.