Review by Fran Lewis’s Book reviews/ MJ Magazine
Sanctuary: T.M. Brown
Within this novel suited for the holidays you will meet some very unique and interesting people that live in the small town of Shiloh as they look forward to celebrating “Christmas in Shiloh”, a normally special time in this time-lost community. A serious fire that caused a well-known landmark to burn down in this town took the life of Jessie Masterson before his time. Although he saved many from the same fate, no one could save him. But there is much more. John Priestly, the well-respected head coach of the football team – a team that rose to fame and glory under his and Jessie’s leadership. Both men were respected and revered by so many of the young adults, teens and others as they created not only harmony among team members but within the community too. Establishing a place called Sanctuary where young people and anyone else could come to talk, listen, understand and worship in a different way helped foster friendships that can never be severed.
Your sanctuary can be a sacred part of a religious building as in a Christian church in which the altar is placed. It is sometimes a consecrated place or the room in which general worship is held. In this book you might say it is more of a place of protection, refuge, understanding, hope and tolerance where everyone could meet, listen, talk and find solace in their own way.
But, let’s back up for a minute and meet Theo and Liddy Phillips who moved to the South Georgia town of Shiloh were welcomed and greeted upon arriving by a group of congenial and wonderful people who opened their arms and doors to them. A town that appears to be friendly and warm, yet as you gather round the many dinner, lunch and outdoor events you will learn something lurks beneath some of their congenial smiles. Theo, formerly the chief editor of a publishing company, may have retred but of course does not want his journalistic instincts to get stale or rusty. Meeting the owners of the only newspaper in town, Larry and Martha are thrilled that he agrees to do a special, investigative feature story on the life of two members of the community: Jessie Masterson who lost his life in the fire and John Priestly who is sitting in prison for supposedly embezzling school funds.
Living in the home previously owned by Betty Masterson, John’s mother who passed not long after John was convicted, and taking this part-time assignment with the paper, he falls into an interesting daily rhythm as Liddy, Theo’s wife joins in many activities with the Pastor’s wife, Martha, and other prominent women in this small town, which happens to be in the midst of preparing for their annual Christmas in Shiloh event.
Theo dives into the archives of the newspaper with the help of the publisher’s daughter, and he realizes that there is much more to this mystery and the cause of the fire. When he questions the young people in the town, the Mayor, the Pastor, Larry the owner of the paper and others he learns that there is some doubt of John’s guilt, and that John refused to defend himself in court. Eventually everyone will learn why.
Harold Archer is the Mayor and his oldest son is Hank whose wife works for Harold at City Hall. Everyone warns Theo of Hank’s volatile personality and advises him never to deal with him alone.
What I really enjoyed reading about were the interactions between Theo and the younger people that are so polite, job oriented and have their own roots within this small town and how they interacted with Theo and the respect shown to him and Liddy is heartwarming and encouraging. I think that young adults, teens and younger children can learn some real lessons in manners, morals and family traditions and dedication.
Harold Archer’s family owns the construction company in town and profited from some of the projects by over 12 million dollars due to extras and add-ons. When John Priestly challenged the quality and rising costs of the construction work hard feelings festered. Theo visits John in prison, thanks to Joe Arians, John’s lawyer and new friend of Theo and Liddy, hopeful John will shed some light on why he did not fight the charges in court.
(You will need to read this engaging Southern mystery for the rest of the story, which climaxes during Shiloh’s grand Christmas in Shiloh holidays celebration.)
This is a town where nearly everyone opened their arms and hearts to Theo and Liddy, cusing you to wonder if God did not send them there to reunite the town and rid it of its sorrows and secrets.
Author T. M. Brown brings us inside a town filled with love, warmth and most of all heartfelt love for each other. So many lessons for young people to learn about respect, understanding, family values and most of all faith and forgiveness.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ magazine
To order your copy, visit your local independent book retailer, Amazon or request a signed copy directly at @TMBrownauthor.