Book Title: Boy on the Beach by R.D. Maddux
Category: Adult Fiction; 304 pages
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Publisher: Ezekiel 12 Publications
Release date: March 11, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There are implied sex scenes but no graphic descriptions of lovemaking. There is one scene with some violence.)
Andrew Foster, a real estate developer in San Diego, is a man suddenly haunted by his past. Memories, like specters from his former life of sex, drugs and rock and roll have come crashing into his current world of business in this sunny coastal city. The ominous, repeated appearance of a black SUV at the beach where he meets his sister each week, has triggered fears that it’s payback time for a bad choice he made years ago.
To add to his frustrations, his hopes of a big breakthrough in the San Diego real estate market haven’t come to pass. He’s starting to wonder if his visions of success will ever come true when an investor offers to finance his dream project. Soon things start to fall into place for Andrew in business, life, and even love. He starts dating the beautiful and business-savvy Nicole but even with her at his side he can’t seem to shake the ghosts of his past. As the relationship with Nicole deepens, Andrew opens up to her about the many loves and adventures that have taken him from the crazy days of living in Big Sur and Joshua Tree to business success in San Diego. Her wise insights help him face the character flaws that have caused him to fail in his past relationships.
Rounding out his social life is his once-a-week task of assisting his sister with her nanny job watching a young boy named Chandler. They build sand castles on the beach and enjoy the beauty of nature together. But the now ominous weekly appearance of a strange car at the beach has awakened Andrew’s fears. Is the boy in danger? Or worse, has an enemy from Andrew’s past come seeking revenge and now Chandler’s caught in the middle?
A strange twist of events threatens to destroy Andrew’s dreams, but as he searches for answers, a sudden revelation offers hope of a future he never imagined.
Boy on the Beach is a mystery novel that is intriguing and, after a few chapters, had me hooked as I wanted to know how the mystery would unravel. The novel has a dual timeline alternating between the present and 37 years in the past to what I guess was the late 70s. I love books with dual timelines that gradually merge to reveal the plot, and the author succeeded in doing this well.
The story is told in the first person POV by the main character Andrew, a fifty-seven-year-old man whose business as a developer hasn't done too well. He is financially strapped and still waiting to make it big in the San Diego real estate market. He is also plagued by unresolved issues of his past and by his failed relationships. Andrew was an interesting character and not always likable, but reading his thoughts felt almost like reading a memoir, especially when he relates his past life where he lived in communes, experimented with different drugs and with different women. This was the part of the novel I enjoyed the most as it painted a picture of the era of hippies and a young Andrew who was carefree, immature, disloyal and lost.
The buildup of the mystery was well done with a good twist that was surprisingly good. Andrew was a fleshed out character but I wished there had been more about the boy on the beach. I'm still unsure why the author chose to give a minor secondary character his own chapters in first-person POV as this made it hard to switch from Andrew's head to another's. Despite the fact that this book needed some better developmental editing and formatting, I enjoyed the story.
The novel is atmospheric with beautiful descriptions of the beaches, fog, and sunsets of California, making the setting come alive. It is a story of revenge and the price one pays for past mistakes. But it is also a story of hope and redemption. It had a good ending, with the message that it's never too late to do what is right and to make changes in our lives.
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R.D. Maddux has storytelling in his blood. Since he was young he’s always loved a good tale. He’s been writing seriously since he was in high school and college. His novels range from Mystery and Intrigue to Sci-fi/fantasy. With Boy On The Beach, he’s set the story in modern America, to be exact, on the West Coast of California. He’s a native of the golden state and has been a resident of San Diego since 1987. Before that, he grew up in northern California and lived in the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area with sojourns in some of the beautiful parts of our state.
Living in California for over 60 years he couldn't help but watch the way things have changed in our culture and the impact this coast makes on the rest of America and the world. So even though Boy On The Beach is fiction, like most serious novels, it is not without a context and comment on issues we all face in our changing world. It takes place in real locations that are very familiar to him and its characters, which are fictional, no doubt have their counterparts in the real world. Boy On The Beach is a story of intrigue, suspense, revenge, love and redemption with flashbacks to the era when sex, drugs and rock and roll set our culture on it's inevitable journey to our present day. This idea has been rattling around in his heart and mind for a decade and it's finally coming to the page.
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