River of Heaven
Shaye Areheart (Crown), Apr 2008, $24.00
In Michigan Arthur Pope is stunned when his “first mate” Bess dies leaving him alone. Still gregarious, Arthur crashes into the life of his sexagenarian gay neighbor, reclusive Sammy Brady who lives quietly with Stump, his basset hound. Arthur persuades Sammy that they need to build a special doghouse for Stump. He designs the canine abode to look like a ship as would be expected by a former navy officer.
When the Daily Mail learns of the odd shaped doghouse, they send human interest reporter Duncan Hines to interview Sammy, Stump and Arthur. However, Duncan is related to Dewey Finn, Sammy's childhood friend from Rat Town, who inexplicably died on a railroad track five decades ago near Mt. Gilead, Illinois; Sammy knows what happened but kept it secret. Sammy’s estranged brother Cal arrives to hide an antique from a vicious collector as does Arthur’s granddaughter Maddie at a time the local militia has an interest in both men.
RIVER OF HEAVEN is an engaging thriller that starts off innocent enough as two elderly men build a special doghouse for Seaman Stump, but begins a series of complicated twists starting with the arrival of Duncan. The spins add suspense and tension, but with so many it can be difficult to keep track as fifty years come full circle. Still fans will enjoy this rich tale in which Sammy never recovered from the secret of what did occur back in 1955 that he promised Cal he would maintain forever.