A brief rebuttal. Jim Harrison, John Smolins, Robert Traver, Elmore Leonard, Joyce Carol Oates, Bruce Catton, Edmund Love, Iola Fuller, and Ernest Hemingway. Those are the authors this 70-some-year-old with a failing memory could think of within a couple minutes. Most, but certainly not all of the aforementioned admittedly blossomed into writers after 1939.
In this latest outing, Seamus has talked his girlfriend, a professional bodyguard, into letting him guard a witness by taking the man to his remote cabin in the UP's Iron County until he is due in court. That should be simple enough but the first time Sheamus goes to town and leaves his charge behind in the cabin he returns to an empty cabin. Outraged at his unprofessionalism, his girlfriend dumps him. It appears an assassin is on the trail of the man he was guarding and may decide to take out Seamus as well. Then there's the murdered body Seamus finds in the woods while searching for the witness he is supposed to be guarding, and the old human bone his Golden Retriever granddog proudly finds not far from the site where Seamus stumbles across the body. If that isn't enough trouble, Seamus is also withholding evidence from the sheriff of Iron County.
As always, another thoroughly enjoyable mystery from a very dependable writer, and that's no empty promise.
Empty Promises by James M. Jackson. Wolf's Echo Press, 2018, $14.95 pb.
The author felt totally out of place and "at odds with the Michigan countryside," and found the slowness of rural life hard to get used to. The reason for the move to the Ludington area was that both the author and her fiance landed teaching jobs with the local community college. They bought the house before they were married and her husband-to-be was fine with being married by a rabbi but the author finds it nearly impossible to locate a rabbi from Michigan or the surrounding states willing to marry them. It seems many rabbi's refuse to marry interfaith couples.
This intelligent and engaging memoir is a meditation on home, religion, family, and being culturally adrift. The author explores her doubts about Christianity, which began in childhood, her eventual conversion to the Jewish faith, and how hard it is to practice her faith without a synagogue or even meeting a fellow Jew in Ludington. It's interesting to view Michigan, especially rural Michigan, through the eyes of a young, life-long, urban Southerner. She slowly comes to terms with Michigan winters and beginnings to look at rural Ludington as home, for at least the near future. And she finds a rabbi that will marry them in their barn. The local, small German religious sect loans the couple their tables for the wedding and in return asked to be invited to the wedding because they have never seen a Jewish marriage ceremony.
From the first page to last the book is enjoyable, informative, and a view of rural Michigan from a new and definitely different perspective. In five years I would like to read where life has taken Natalie Ruth Joynton. Does she still live in Michigan and has she continued to adapt to the state? How difficult is it to raise Jewish children in an area that has no Jewish community, and if she's moved out of state how does she reflect on her Michigan experience? The book is well worth your time and may well have you reflecting on your journey through life.
Welcome to Replica Dodge, A Memoir by Natalie Ruth Joynton. Wayne State University Press, 2019, $18.99. https://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/welcome-replica-dodge
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