Acorn Publishing (2019)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (7/19)
I love it when an author writes a thoroughly engaging story that takes you on a bumpy ride to a destination that can't be guessed ahead of time. “Section Roads” by Mike Murphey is such a book. Murphey provides a series of entertaining, unreliable characters, each of whom keeps secrets from the others, from the community, and even from themselves.
At a small high school in Easter, New Mexico, Cullen Molloy and Shelby Blaine formed an unusual friendship that lasted over the decades as each love, protect and support one another. Both Cullen and Shelby were band nerds, and both wore thick glasses, which resulted in a lot of bullying by others. During one such episode, Cullen finds an ally in Buddy Boyd. Buddy is feared by all, an athlete and can’t stand bullies. Like any other high school, teenagers pull pranks, but when one prank turns deadly, Buddy Boyd ended up in juvenile detention until he turned eighteen. Once released, part of his punishment is to return to his high school to finish school. Knowing he couldn’t fight back, or get into any kind of trouble, the bullies had a heyday.
Fast forward to 2009, Arthur High School is having their fortieth high school reunion and Buddy a/k/a Hezekiah Boyd has no intention of going. During the reunion, a murder occurs, and the police go straight for Buddy as their number one suspect. Cullen, now a lawyer, offers to represent him with the help of his girlfriend Lori, a former detective, along with their friends Shelby and Weard.
“Section Roads” is both a murder mystery and coming of age story. Murphey makes it so much more in that it shows the effect an outrageous act of murder has on the living. I could not put it down. I grew up in the ’60s in a small town, and the characters were very relatable. I especially loved Weard, as he reminded me of a high school friend that was just like him. Once you get the key players and their role in a carefree day gone bad, you will be second-guessing yourself on who the killer was and why.
Murphey's storyline is well developed, tender, and thoughtful. His characters inhabit their world so completely that it could truly exist. I found the characters, and their narratives to be genuine and realistic to the timeframe. It brought back memories of my own hometown with the different high school groups, the small-town lifestyle, and first love.
I highly recommend, “Section Roads” by Mike Murphey for its intriguing cast of characters and the author's ability to intertwine past and present events smoothly into a story that keeps it compelling and exciting.