Now THAT’S What I’m Talkin’ About…

Until he joined the staff of the blog then called Novel Journey/now known as Novel Rocket, I’d never heard of Athol Dickson.

But since we’d be working together (more or less), I thought it would be nice to familiarize myself with him a little. So I checked out his blog — and found a writer after my own heart. In fact, I borrowed (stole?) a quote from one of his entries and have it displayed prominently above my computer:

Let us search out the finest words deliberately, with beauty as our goal, as shepherds once searched through their flocks for lambs without a blemish.

Man, I wish I’d said that.

Since then, I’ve read three of his books. He has a new release coming in September and I’ll review it then. (Can hardly wait!) But in the meantime, I’d like to share my thoughts concerning his 2008 release from Bethany House, Winter Haven.

Winter Haven
by Athol Dickson
Released: 2008
Publisher: Bethany House
333 pages
ISBN 978-0-7642-0164-6

Vera Gamble, shy and retiring numbers-cruncher from Dallas, Texas, gets a call from a police chief on an island off the Maine coast: they’ve recovered a body, and it appears to be her brother’s.

Her autistic older brother, Siggy, walked away from home thirteen years ago, when he was a teenager, and was never seen again. How could he have washed up now, and on a desolate Maine beach? It wasn’t possible. But Vera was trapped on a treadmill of CPA work, captured by an eternal parade of scrolling numbers that held no more meaning than the endless, impersonal Texas heat. It would be cool in Maine, and there, she could catch a break from the tedium and stress of her lonely, demanding life.

Suffering from seasickness on the mail boat to the island of Winter Haven, it’s too late for the second thoughts that plague her. And upon landing, she has third thoughts as well, and fourth ones, at the reception she receives and the shock of seeing her brother’s dead face, preserved unchanged despite the years that have passed.  But when she wants to leave, the police chief won’t release the body because too many questions remain unanswered.

Ghostly apparitions, veiled threats, polite deceptions and overt rudeness run Vera through an emotional ringer and keep the reader spellbound to the last page. Dickson proves himself a true artist, painting word pictures as graphic as oils and as breathtaking as the fragrant mists that curl through the towering pines.

It’s a compelling story, beautifully written, with a conclusion that warms the bones like the breaking through of a sunbeam.

When I have a hankering for a good book, this is exactly what I’m talking about. Athol Dickson is fast working his way toward the top of my Favorite Authors list.

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