cover image The Golfer’s Carol

The Golfer’s Carol

Robert Bailey. Putnam, $24 (240p) ISBN 978-0-593-19050-0

A dejected man gains a new perspective on his life’s challenges in this sentimental golfing parable from Bailey (the McMurtie and Drake Legal Thrillers series). On his 40th birthday in 1986, Alabama insurance lawyer Randy Clark intends to kill himself. Still grieving his young son’s leukemia death three years earlier and embittered about giving up his professional golf dreams, he hopes his life insurance will wipe out his debt, provide for his wife, and let his daughter attend college. After the ghost of his best friend, pro golfer Darby Hays, appears with the news that he’d just died while driving drunk, Randy postpones the plan. Later, Darby’s ghost informs Randy he will have a chance to play four rounds of golf with his greatest heroes. Over the next several days, Randy is mystically transported to a series of famous courses. He plays golf with Bobby Jones, who teaches him about self-control; Ben Hogan, who encourages resilience; and Arnold Palmer, who pushes him to overcome his self-doubt. As Randy prepares for the final round promised by Darby, the hero who appears is not who he expects. While the lessons are a bit shallow, Bailey wrings genuine emotion from Randy’s tragedies. This life-affirming sports odyssey will appeal to fans of uncomplicated inspirational yarns. Agent: Liza Fleissig, Liza Royce Agency. (Nov.)