Wednesday, January 21, 2009

River of Heaven

by Lee Martin
Read January 2008

This was in the stack of prepublication copies in the break room at the library.
The product description from Amazon reminds me of what drew me to it:
Past and present collide in Lee Martin’s highly anticipated novel of a man, his brother, and the dark secret that both connects and divides them. Haunting and beautifully wrought, River of Heaven weaves a story of love and loss, confession and redemption, and the mystery buried with a boy named Dewey Finn.

On an April evening in 1955, Dewey died on the railroad tracks outside Mt. Gilead, Illinois, and the mystery of his death still confounds the people of this small town.
River of Heaven begins some fifty years later and centers on the story of Dewey’s boyhood friend Sam Brady, whose solitary adult life is much formed by what really went on in the days leading up to that evening at the tracks. It’s a story he’d do anything to keep from telling, but when his brother, Cal, returns to Mt. Gilead after decades of self-exile, it threatens to come to the surface.

I think that it also must have been the opening chapter that drew me in, as this description is not all that exciting.

This was a good book. I didn't really care that much about the whole Dewey Finn mystery. I simply liked the characters and their relationship with one another.

One old guy who has been a bit of a loner lives next door to a widower. The loner decides to build a dog house shaped like a ship in his backyard. The widower neighbor butts in to help. Later, the widower's granddaughter comes to live with him.

These three people made the book interesting and I would have been happy with a simple domestic story about these three characters. The mystery that occupied the second half of the book was only just ok.

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