In the 1960s, George James and Freeman Hawk were college roomies. George, the traditionalist, and Freeman,the adventurer, made a sort of intellectual odd couple, and it didn’t take long for Freeman to convince George there were new and exciting ways to look at the world. Now, in 2004, George is a recently widowed single parent; he and his teenage son, Jake, have an uneasy relationship, and Jake’s own personal life is beginning to spiral out of control. Unexpectedly, Freeman appears out of nowhere—well, out of Canada, where he’s been living for the past three decades. He has a serious problem (a couple of them, actually), and, in trying to get to the bottom of the story, George must confront his own troubled past. This complex, character-driven novel challenges readers to assemble in their own minds the chronology of George’s life; the author moves from present-day events to past memories fluidly, assembling the bigger picture a piece at a time. The writing is precise and economical; not a scene is wasted. Another fine novel from a consistently interesting writer. --Booklist
George James and Freeman Hawk were unlikely friends. George was part of soft-spoken, old-money Richmond; Freeman came from a hardscrabble country family mired in poverty and marked by violence.
Fate threw them together long ago as freshman roommates at New Hope College. It was the late ’60s, and George was the standard-bearer for a society living on borrowed time while Freeman was leading the charge into what came next. Before they left New Hope, though, Freeman would convert George, convince him that there was a better world to be made, persuade him—temporarily—to forsake the seamless life that already was mapped out for him as the Ham Prince of Richmond. Canada. The option to war- bloodied America, beckoned. The moment of truth came in a small town on the Vermont border, where George James lost his faith in Freeman Hawk—or perhaps in himself—and hesitated.
Fast-forward to the early twenty-first century, in a world whose axis has been tilted by 9/11. George and his son Jake, are existing in a shaky approximation of normalcy, nursing the wounds of their own, personal loss as George negotiates the sale of the family business and Jake, plunged into despair and rage by his mother’s death, is consigned to a private school for “troubled” teens.
Things get dicier when Freeman Hawk reappears. Nothing about him is as it seems, not even his name. Freeman is on the run, but from what?
In Howard Owen’s ninth novel, old scabs are torn off and new wounds inflicted. In the end there will be a reckoning for all of them, and sixteen-yearold Jake James will find himself at a border as daunting as the one from which his father turned back so long ago.
HOWARD OWEN is a novelist and journalist living in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he and his wife, Karen, are editors for The Free Lance-Star. His earlier novels include Littlejohn, The Measured Man, and Rock of Ages.