3 out of 4 stars
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After losing his wife and being hounded by demons from his past, Tucker Mason is looking for a fresh start. Before beginning work as a project manager in the construction of a prison on Bright’s Mountain, Virginia, he goes to look at a house for rent that is located close to the prison site. The house is available because the elderly couple who lived there were recently found dead. The quietness and solitary nature of the house appeal to him. When leaving for lunch from work, he notices his tire is flat, and he is informed someone probably shot the tire. After fixing it and driving down the road, Tucker is rear-ended several times by a large flatbed truck and knocked over the hill. While he was groggy and going in and out of consciousness, a menacing voice said to him, “ ‘You . . . kin you hear me? You don’t come back, y’hear. You don’t never come back here agin . . .’ ”
While recovering from his injuries, he stays with Casey, the superintendent of the job. Then, Tucker rents the house, despite being warned to stay away from there by a waitress.
Soon afterward, a little girl appears in his yard and announces, “ ‘ She said he’s coming back, and you have to go now. Sh-she said I should tell you that.’ ” Then, she runs away. Mysterious things start happening around the house: his window is shot out, loud noises occur in the night, his locked shed door is found open several times, his gasoline can explodes while he is mowing his grass, and a heart is left in a bag by his front door.
In the meantime, Tucker notices drugs are prevalent in the area, seeing evidence of it himself as well as hearing about numerous people who are adversely affected by them.
Beyond the Higher Ground by Thomas A. Brigger is listed in the historical fiction genre, but it could just as easily fit into the C/T/M/H category. Utilizing his experience as a builder, the author develops the background of the story. His book is masterfully written, getting the reader’s attention early and holding it until the final surprise at the end. The mystery and suspense are my favorite aspects of the story. Written in the third person narration, the tale follows Tucker through his adversities on Bright’s Mountain. With a well-developed, diverse, and rich cast of characters, the story is fascinating and compelling. The eloquent prose is believable, chilling at times, and kept me spellbound. His excellent descriptions left me with visions of Bright’s Mountain and its inhabitants.
The drug problem is bad in the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and its impact on the individuals and families who live there plays a major role in the story. I applaud the author’s ability to bring attention to the plight of those unfortunate people affected by drugs and poverty. When the book began, I thought this would be another story that would denigrate people living in the mountains; however, the author ends up being quite sensitive, demonstrating they are just trying to survive and do the best they can.
I sincerely wish the editing was better as I feel this novel would have been deserving of the highest rating. However, there were too many flaws, mostly in the form of run-on sentences and punctuation errors. It could use a professional editor. This was the only thing about the novel I didn’t like.
As I truly loved the character development, the suspense, and the overall story, Beyond the Higher Ground gets a rating of three out of four stars. One star was taken away because of the errors. Readers who enjoy historical fiction, suspense, and mysteries would appreciate this story. There was no sex in the book; however, infrequent profanities were seen. Therefore, it is unsuitable for young children. With the parent’s permission, it would be appropriate for preteens and teenagers.
Beyond the Higher Ground
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