Monday, February 8, 2010

How to Keep a Family Secret

Reviewed by Phee Paradise
Hunter’s Moon
By Don Hoesel

The members of the Baxter family are proud of their two hundred year history in America, but they’ve never been able to achieve the notoriety of other old families. In fact, their only well known member is CJ, an acclaimed writer. He claims his books are not autobiographical, but everyone knows better, and no one is flattered. When CJ’s grandfather dies, he returns to the family home after 15 years of not speaking with the rest of the family. He stays indefinitely, for reasons he’s not sure he can articulate, even to himself.

The Baxters are not nice people, and CJ appears to be like the rest of them, full of anger and spite. But as he learns more about his own motives, and reveals to the reader the childhood events that shaped him, it becomes apparent he isn’t like most of the others. Fairly deep into the book, I was surprised to learn that he had been born again about a month before his return home. But after that revelation, I could see that his struggle with the burden he had carried all his life was also a struggle to learn what it means to live as a Christian. I particularly appreciated the people who gathered around to mentor him. None of them fit the typical Christian stereotype.

But don’t think the book is just a psychological and spiritual drama. The story has several layers and a lot of action. CJ’s brother, Graham, is running for senate and needs the family to support him. But CJ has been hurt by the skeleton in the closet and thinks about writing an article that will expose Graham, who will stop at nothing to keep his secrets and win the election. By the end of the book, the action takes over and some secrets are revealed while CJ is literally on the run. I had expected part of the outcome, but not all of it, and was pleased that Hoesel had saved a few surprises for the end.

Hunter’s Moon is one of those books you love to savor after you’ve finished, so save some time to ponder the characters, motivations and the plot.

Pros: Complicated family relationships. It’s full of secrets and the characters are complex. Sometimes you’ll wonder who’s wearing the white hat and who’s wearing the black hat. The portrayal of small town life is delightful.

Cons: The attempts to show the powerful political arena comes off as “small town” and the actions of the antagonists may seem a bit extreme and thus, not quite believable.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Hunter's Moon

Bethany House (February 1, 2010)


Don Hoesel


Don Hoesel was born and raised in Buffalo, NY but calls Spring Hill, TN home. He works as a Communications Department supervisor for a Medicare carrier in Nashville, TN. He has a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University and has published short fiction in Relief Journal.

Don and hopes to one day sell enough books to just say that he's a writer. You can help with that by buying whatever his newest novel happens to be.

He lives in Spring Hill with his wife and two children.


Every family has secrets. Few will go as far as the Baxters to keep them. Bestselling novelist CJ Baxter has made a career out of writing hard-hitting stories ripped from his own life. Still there's one story from his past he's never told. One secret that's remained buried for decades. Now, seventeen years after swearing he'd never return, CJ is headed back to Adelia, NY. His life in Tennessee has fallen to pieces, his grandfather is dying, and CJ can no longer run from the past. With Graham Baxter, CJ's brother, running for Senate, a black sheep digging up old family secrets is the last thing the family and campaign can afford. CJ soon discovers that blood may be thicker than water, but it's no match for power and money. There are wounds even time cannot heal.

To read the first chapter of Hunter's Moon, click HERE

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