Monday, February 8, 2010

Hunter's Moon by Don Hoesel - REVIEWED

“I think the parts that have changed are dwarfed by what’s stayed the same.” (p. 176)

Adelia, New York is the home of CJ Baxter’s childhood as well as the many dark secrets that have held his heart and mind captive since he left seventeen years ago. When the death of his grandfather draws him back to his childhood home, CJ finds he is also drawn back to an opportunity to sort through the dark secrets and finally make peace with his past. However, there are others in Adelia who are determined to keep the past shrouded in mystery, and they are willing to go to great lengths to silence anyone who tries to bring their dark secrets into the light.

Don Hoesel’s latest novel, Hunter’s Moon, examines generational secrets of a family who seems to feed off the power they wield over others. CJ’s return to Adelia coincides with his brother Graham’s run for a senate seat, and thus arms the Baxter clan with added incentive to keep CJ and his search for truth at arm’s length. What they didn’t anticipate was that CJ would stay in Adelia after his grandfather’s funeral and begin to reacquaint himself with the town and its people. What CJ didn’t anticipate was that his own spite would set him on a path that would ultimately cause him to face his role in the past’s dark secrets and allow him to choose a different path than the one chosen by his family for generations.

Hunter’s Moon is a story that moves at the slow meandering pace of a man trying to sort through decades of wrong choices and bad decisions. CJ is a well-known author in his professional life, but his personal life is in shambles. He is a brand new Christian in this story, and he is still struggling to sort out what that means for him in his everyday existence. I admit to being frustrated with the pace of this story and wondering why it was necessary to wade through generations of Baxter angst. However, by the end of the story, it became apparent, and powerfully impacted the final scenes. My other frustration was that despite the fact that CJ was a new Christian, there seemed to be an inordinate amount of time spent in bars and seated around a poker table. There was practically zero indication that any transformation had occurred in CJ’s life nor the life of others in the story who were supposed to be Christians. In short, the faith element in this story is very obscure.

Overall, Hunter’s Moon is a contemplative tale rather than an action packed thriller as might be indicated by the smoking gun on the cover. If you enjoy a slow, thoughtful read that explores a man’s journey to reconcile the secrets of his past with its impact on his future, this is a tale you will enjoy. This story explores the fact that we all choose whether or not to lug around the baggage of spite, anger and unforgiveness, or whether we choose to lay down the past in forgiveness and move into the future unencumbered with the weight of past sins.


Don Hoesel is a Web site designer 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. He lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife and two children.

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