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November 25, 2023

Distant Sons by Tim Johnston ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

The paths of two young men collide and spark unexpected violence in a Wisconsin town where three boys went missing in the 1970s.  

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of thriller Distant Sons by Tim Johnston
October 2023; Algonquin Books; 978-1643753591
audio, ebook, print (400 pages); thriller

I've enjoyed all of Tim Johnston's books and for me, this was his best book yet.  It's going to be a hard book to review because I don't want to give away any spoilers for other readers.  What I can and will tell you is that this is a book full of twists and turns that will keep you turning the pages PLUS it has a wonderfully well-developed main character who keeps the reader even more invested in the story and the ultimate ending.

Sean Courtland's old Chevy truck broke down outside of a small town in Wisconsin.  A good Samaritan stopped and suggested a repair shop, gave him a ride into town, and when he found out that Sean was a carpenter told him about an old guy in town who needed some work done.  In quick succession, he gets the job, and ends up in a bar fight defending a girl that he didn't even know who was being harassed which causes him to become known to the local police.  He picks up a hitchhiker a few days later and when he finds out that Dan is a plumber, he asks him to help finish up the repair job that he's doing.  They quickly get noticed by the people in town who are still haunted by the disappearance of three young boys years before.  

Both Sean and Dan have secrets from their past and no real homes - instead, they both travel around and work when they need a little money.  Their work for an old man who the townspeople believe had something to do with the boy's disappearance all those years ago, brings new light to the cold case.

This book could have been very confusing -- there were a lot of different characters plus it's told in two timelines but everything fit together perfectly and pointed toward the ending.  Sean is definitely the 'star' of the novel - a nice guy who likes helping people but seems to attract trouble even if he isn't looking for trouble.  He's quiet but always thinking and rationalizing situations.  He's one of my favorite characters that I've read in a long time.

If you enjoy a good mystery, well-written characters, and small-town ambiance, this is a book that you don't want to miss.  It isn't a book that you want to speed through -- but want to read slowly and savor the writing and the character development.  It's a definite must read!

Buy Distant Sons at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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