Sunday, November 19, 2023

Book Review: Distant Sons, by Tim Johnston

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Viegas pulled up in front of the house and shut down the car and sat a minute in the dark, watching the downstairs windows. The curtains were not drawn and she could see the play of firelight on the far wall of the living room, on the paintings hung there, but no other movement.

Lights had been turned on in the dining room and kitchen but no movement there either. No preparations for dinner. No sitting down to it.

She sent a text and waited. The reply came, and by the time she reached the stone steps he was standing in the open door.

“Detective,” said her father.


He was out of his tie and jacket but still wore his good pressed shirt, his suit pants, the nice black belt she’d given him for Father’s Day. The sight of his black Gold Toe socks made her smile, as they always did – a little shiver of childhood, days of starched khaki blouses and the wide-brimmed hat and the black utility belt with its pouches and snaps, the holster that smelled of leather and guy oil. He’d worn the same socks then.

Sean never expected his humble life to have much impact, until it suddenly does.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Distant Sons, by Tim Johnston
What if?

What if Sean Courtland’s old Chevy truck had broken down somewhere else? What if he’d never met Denise Givens, a waitress at a local tavern, and gotten into a bar fight defending her honor? Or offered a ride to Dan Young, another young man like Sean, burdened by secrets and just drifting through the small Wisconsin town?
Instead, Sean enlists Dan’s help with a construction job in the basement of a local—the elderly, reclusive Marion Devereaux—and gradually the two men come to realize that they’ve washed up in a place haunted by the disappearance of three young boys decades earlier. As Sean and Dan’s friendship deepens, and as Sean gets closer to Denise and her father, they come to the attention of a savvy local detective, Corrine Viegas, who has her own reasons for digging into Dan’s past—and for being unable to resist the pull of the town’s unsolved mystery. And with each chance connection, an irreversible chain of events is set in motion that culminates in shattering violence and the revelation of long-buried truths.
Gripping and immersive, this crime novel by bestselling author Tim Johnston becomes so much more: a book about friendship and love and good hard work—and a masterful read about how the most random intersection of lives can have consequences both devastating and beautiful.

Sean never intended to spend any time in the small Wisconsin town where his truck breaks down. But he goes where he finds work, so when he’s offered a job along with a ride, it’s worth his time to stick around and finish once his truck is fixed.

Likewise, Detective Corrine Viegas never expects much to happen in the small town where she works, until a few people new to town keep popping up where she least expects them. Everyone in this novel has a past that may not be common knowledge, and most are content to keep their stories to themselves indefinitely.

The unassuming characters in this story had their own histories and lives. While their secrets may not have been secrets intentionally, once they were discovered, they were life-changing for others. The book was not generally action-packed, but once a reader becomes engaged with the characters, no one could resist the urge to get to the end and find out how it all connects. 

This story earned 3 out of 5 stars. The nostalgia of the stories still re-told around town from the 1970s was heartfelt and realistic. Anyone who enjoys small town family dramas would certainly enjoy this book.

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Becki Bayley is a blogger for more than 20 years who primarily shares book reviews now. Feel free to review almost half her life at her blog,


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