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Greg Garrett, Author . Kensington $23 (242p) ISBN 978-0-7582-0139-3

An ex-lawyer travels from his small North Carolina hometown to New Mexico, where he comes to terms with his troubled past in Garrett's entertaining debut. When Clay Forester learns that his father, an artist living in Santa Fe, has just died, he is shocked, believing his absent dad had kicked the bucket a long time ago. But the news of his father's death rouses him from his lethargic existence— playing in a mediocre bar band and maintaining a half-hearted relationship after losing his estranged wife and son in a tragic, alcohol-related accident—and he sets out on a road trip to attend the funeral. The road trip comes with plenty of twists and turns, starting when the softhearted hero picks up a three-legged dog, then a hitchhiking Bible-thumper trying to make it back to California for his wife's surgery, and finally a troubled stripper with her young son in tow. Clay's adventures take yet another turn in Texas, where he meets a former law school colleague turned priest and protester, and the surprises continue to mount in New Mexico as he discovers his father's formidable legacy as an artist and local philanthropist. Garrett is a fine storyteller with a deft comic touch, and his compassion for his well-drawn characters shines through from start to finish. He gets a bit heavy-handed when he articulates Clay's epiphany, and with the subsequent reconciliations he engineers after describing the pivotal legal case that tore apart Forester's marriage, but overall this wide-ranging novel makes for a very enjoyable and occasionally thought-provoking read. Agent, Jill Grosjean. 5-city author tour. (Mar. 11)

Reviewed on: 02/18/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
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