Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Frank and his younger brother, Jake, learn that a friend of theirs has died at the railroad tracks. This is a dangerous place where children are warned to stay away from. As the local minister, Frank's father, Nathan, conducts the funeral service and Frank is made aware of some of what the boy's parents were going through. Frank relates that he didn't know it at the time but this summer would bring other deaths, one quite close to him.
Frank's father was in law school prior to WWII but after seeing action in the war, he had no desire to practice law and decided to go into the ministry. There are times that Frank hears his mother wish that Nathan had become an attorney and that she had her fill of being a minister's wife.
The river by the railroad has a large place in the story, the body of an itinerant is found there but it is the third death that shatters Frank's peaceful summer.
Gus is a man who does odd jobs around town and is Frank's father's confidante. He had been in the army with Nathan and they share battlefield memories. Gus could easily be a character in "To Kill a Mockingbird" as the adult who Scout could turn to when confused about what is going on around her. Gus has faults but is a kind of Everyman who has an innate goodness.
The theme of a person's faith and putting oneself in the hands of God is well presented with Ruth, Frank's mother, as the person who has doubts and wishes she got more attention from Nathan and was tired of having to be a model wife.
As the novel evolves, the author's lyrical style is seen with his descriptions of the land, the life of a small town and faith in God.
The novel has been nominated for an Edgar Award for the best mystery novel of 2013.