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Return to Sender Paperback – October 23, 2014
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
The vivid imagination of a born story-teller comes to life in Mindy Halleck's new novel, Return to Sender, starring a warrior-priest as reluctant hero--he waits for death, he prays for mercy, he hopes for the miraculous return of his fighting skills--as he faces a stone killer, the ruthless dragon-antagonist rising up from the mists with vengeance in his heart. Set against a backdrop on the picturesque--and often quixotic--Oregon seacoast, Return to Sender blooms with a sterling cast and some peachy plot-twists.
Robert J. Ray, The Weekend Novelist
"In Return to Sender, Mindy Halleck writes about family and neighborhoods and the ways our roots define our lives with the assured vividness of Dennis Lehane and the unflinching edge of Gillian Flynn. An old school, can't-put-it-down read."
Larry Brooks, critically-acclaimed bestselling author of four psychological thrillers.
You'll ponder your own redemption as you accompany Theo on his quest to save the woman he loves, his beloved beach town, and himself in this novel that will haunt you long after you've put it down.
Gloria Kempton, Writing Coach and author of ten books, including Write Great Fiction: Dialogue, and The Outlaw's Journey: A Mythological Approach to Storytelling
Return to Sender is a deeply evocative novel that explores what it means to have faith in a world torn by conflict. Bill Johnson, Author of A Story is a Promise & The Spirit of Storytelling
In her debut novel, Mindy Halleck creates a monster--Genghis Hansel--who needs a warrior-priest to release him from his demons. "Return to Sender" is a deep love story and a thriller rolled into one.
Jack Remick, Author and Instructor ~ Montaigne Medal and BOTYA Finalist.
From the Author
Return To Sender has been a labor of love; love for place, Manzanita Oregon, and love for the history of a time gone by--- 1950's on the Oregon Coast. It was an other worldly place in my childhood memories, full of ghosts stories, war weary veterans, Korean and Chinese immigrants, Nehalem Indian history and a small village like atmosphere, minus a sheriff, where people often made their own rules. I grew up spending weekends there in the summers. I knew gold hunters, believed the ghost stories and pirates history, and loved the tapestry of cultures that were once the Nehalem Valley. It was the perfect backdrop for the unfolding of Return To Sender.
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The writing is simple and rich at the same time. The story moves at the pace of life in the town, and it was easy to be immersed in it. The main character, Father Theodore Riley, struggles with war memories, the loss of his hometown sweetheart, and the awareness he's out of place as a priest. Three other characters narrate occasional chapters, but I did not feel as if I got to know them as well. I liked Solomon's thoughts, but I didn't think the way he expressed them seemed natural.
I'm giving the book four instead of five stars because of the inconsistencies, the worst being the timeline. The book begins in 1956. Part II begins in the spring of 1957 and continues through Christmas--mistakenly labeled 1956. Part III begins in October 1957(?) and is not a flashback. I think that when they refer to the Suzy Wu case "last year," it should have been two years ago. Then there are things like the Twinkies being on the shelf behind the Ovaltine and Quaker Oats AND in the freezer, and a newspaper article with rattlesnakes in the headline but copperheads in the article. One more: The villain leaves a red shoe; in chapter 107 he leaves the other half of the pair. In chapter 141 he somehow leaves the other half of the pair again. And chapter numbering skips.
Things like these became distracting. A book as well-written as this one is deserves to be polished a little more.
Halleck's protagonist, Theo, an alcoholic Irish priest, lives the life his brother was robbed of. He seeks atonement for his childhood revenge against those who took his brother's life, and his failure to save unwanted mixed-race orphans in the Korean War. The wound of his lost childhood sweetheart rips open when he retreats to his hometown on the Oregon coast and she returns to pack up the family home.
Ordered by his bishop to provide chaplain services at the state prison, Theo meets the devil incarnate in Genghis, a religious fanatic behind bars for crimes against children. Genghis escapes and heads for Theo's sanctuary. Theo, Bud, his friend since childhood, and Soloman, his Indian mentor from his teen years and the last of his tribe, band together to save those they love from the impending storm Genghis brings to their door.
I recommend this book for its lyrical voice and story.